Viroqua Jr. American Legion wins tourney

The Viroqua Jr. American Legion team celebrates its championship at in the Riverdale Tournament at Muscoda, Sunday. The team lost its first game in the double-elimination tournament, then came back to defeat every opponent, including the home team twice, for the title.

The Viroqua Junior Legion Baseball team came home Sunday afternoon from the Riverdale Tournament with the first place championship trophy held high.

Coach Kodi Ethridge and the team made a truly remarkable run by winning five-straight games — four of them on the final, grueling day of the tournament-to claim the championship.

"'Why not win it?'  That was our motto for the final day of the tournament," Ethridge said. "I was lucky to have 13 guys on the roster with the same goal and we turned that goal into results. We came together and got timely contributions from every member of our team. To stay focused for four games on Sunday is a true testament to our team and its determination."

Viroqua opened the tournament on Friday with a disappointing 11-10 loss to Weston.

The double-elimination tournament format meant that another Viroqua loss would knock the team out of the tournament. It also meant that Viroqua would now be forced to battle back through the consolation bracket.

On Saturday, Viroqua defeated Iowa-Grant by forfeit and then defeated and eliminated Potosi 20-13 to stay alive in tournament play.

Viroqua came out hitting again on Sunday morning and defeated and eliminated Richland Center, 15-7.

The team then took on Highland in the early afternoon and came away with an exciting walk-off 8-7 victory that left only two teams still playing.

Viroqua would now face the undefeated and host Riverdale squad.   Once again Viroqua found a way to win a close one and defeated Riverdale 2-1.

Because Viroqua and Riverdale each had one loss at this point, the tournament championship would come down to one final game between them.  Riverdale held a 7-4 lead late in the game, but Viroqua refused to fold and claimed a 9-7 victory.

What makes this tournament championship even sweeter is the fact the Junior Legion team faced senior Legion teams throughout the weekend tournament.

“The competition was very good and to pull out a first place finish is wonderful,” said Ethridge. “I could not be prouder and happier for my boys. Champions!  Why Not?”

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