Dubois All-Stars enjoying historic run

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Northeast Dubois Little League assistant coach Joe Mroz of Celestine, left, touches second base as his son, Brycen, turns to tag him out during the Jeeps Little League 10U All-Star practice at the Northeast Dubois Little League field on Tuesday. The 10U All-Star team was the first ever Northeast Dubois Little League team to win a district championship since the league began in 1972. With the victory, the Jeeps will head to New Albany on Thursday to compete in the state tournament.


Winning any type of championship is always special, no matter what sport and no matter what level.

But perhaps the titles that seem to mean the most are the ones that are record-breaking or historical.

The Northeast Dubois Little League 10U All-Stars know that feeling pretty well as they were the first Little League team from Dubois to ever win a District championship. They defeated Ireland 5-4 in the semifinal round before knocking off Jasper 5-4 in the championship to claim the honor of District 13 champions. With the victory, they will now head to New Albany this Thursday to compete in the Indiana 8-10U baseball state tournament.

Brycen Mroz and the rest of the team weren’t aware that a group from Dubois had never won any type of title since the Northeast Dubois Little League organization was founded in 1972. He’s pretty sure of the reason why none of the coaches or players ever mentioned this fact.

“I think our parents didn’t tell us because that would’ve put a lot more pressure on us,” said Mroz, who has been the team’s pitcher for most of the postseason. “It might have even scared us a bit.”

While the kids might not have realized immediately just how big of a deal it was to come away with a district championship, it’s safe to say that the coaches were filled with joy — especially knowing that it’s been a long time coming.

“It’s been a long journey,” said head coach Chad Kluesner, who is also the president of the Dubois Little League Association and father of team member Jake Kluesner. “We’ve had some really good teams who have had some chances but it’s just never worked out in their favor. Needless to say, we’re fortunate to be the team to do it and I know everyone in the community is pretty excited for us.”

Assistant coach Joe Mroz, who is also Brycen’s father, added: “For them to make history, they had no idea what they were up against but us coaches and parents knew they had that potential. We told them how they made history after the game and you could slowly see the emotions and smiles run across their faces — we’ve always known they were capable and everything else has just pieced itself together.”

The Dubois 10U All-Stars are comprised of 11 players — Sam Beck, Hayden Carr, Adam Cave, Noah Fawks, Carter Fuhs, Cam Gogel, Jake Kluesner, Brycen Mroz, Gabe Neukam, Bodie Pieper and Eli Schroering.

Something that the Dubois All-Stars have prided themselves on is making sure to utilize all 11 players as each member on the team has had a role in helping them reach where they’re at now. It’s one of the main reasons they were able to celebrate with a firetruck escort through the town of Dubois after their title — just like the high school kids do after a sectional championship.

“We were riding right behind the fire truck and I started to see people pull over and I was like ‘Why are they doing that?,” recalled Mroz, who wears the No. 9 because it’s the same number as Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez, his favorite MLB player. “And then I was like, ‘Wow, that’s amazing!”

Sam Beck, 10, of Celestine, practices grounding a ball during the Jeeps Little League All-Star practice at the Northeast Dubois Little League field on Tuesday. The Jeeps will be facing several teams at the state tournament that are much bigger than them — teams from cities such as Brownsburg, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.

The Dubois 10U All-Stars will begin their play in the state tournament tomorrow at 8 p.m. against Don Ayres — a team from the Fort Wayne area. They’ll play Brownsburg at 3 p.m. on Friday and then they’ll face Broad Ripple, an Indianapolis area team, on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.

If the Jeeps have won of the two best records in their pool — a grouping that also includes Dyer and Middlebry — they’ll advance to the final four on Sunday.

“We’ve already beat some big teams — Jasper, Huntingburg, Floyds Knobs — we know they can compete against almost anyone,” said Coach Mroz in reference to the fact that Dubois will be one of the smaller teams competing at state. “Us being a Class 1A school and going out to compete against the big schools is a neat opportunity for them.”

Coach Kluesner added: “That’s the best thing about Little League, there’s no class system — it’s the way it was.”

There has been an outpouring of community support for the Dubois All-Stars as they prepare to make their trip to New Albany. Joe Mroz recalls his son Brycen getting congratulated by person after person as he was wearing a Dubois shirt at the 12U district games in Jasper while Kluesner is grateful that several local businesses have reached out and helped sponsor meals for the team.

No matter what happens this weekend, this will certainly be a memory that the members of the Dubois All-Stars will remember for the rest of their lives.

“I’m just excited to have this chance,” Brycen Mroz said. “I don’t care if we win or lose, I’m just going to be excited that we’re there. I’m very passionate toward this game.”

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