Todd Sedlar has a different approach to building a traveling baseball team: go local.
It’s not a drastic approach, said Sedlar, head coach of the State Line Stars 13U program. But it stands out.
“The competition and the teams we play against, some of them will bring kids to play,” Sedlar said. “They travel hundreds of miles to have children.”
Sedlar, a resident of Temperance, prefers what’s in his own backyard.
State Line Stars is built with kids from southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio.
“We’re shooting in a radius of about 35 miles,” Sedlar said. “We are created in this local area. And most of them have been together for 3-4 years now.”
It didn’t hurt the team’s ability to compete with the best.
The Sedlar team recently wrapped up their summer season with an overall record of 48-7-1 and their eighth tournament title. The Stars won the Perfect Game Gulf Coast World Series championship July 12-15 in Destin, Florida.
The State Line Stars won tournaments this summer in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, collecting eight championship rings and finishing second for a ninth.
“We’re a local boy band making waves nationally, making a name for themselves,” Sedlar said. “The teams we compete against and the way they run their organizations – what we did was quite special by comparison.”
There were 13 children on the State Line Stars roster this year, most of whom have played ball together since they were 9 – Bryce Besgrove, Ray Campos, Keagen Dixon, Landon Echelberry, Tre Eitniear, Owen Lloyd, Landyn Maly , Brady Maxwell, Corbin Miller, Cashton Sedlar, Jett Smith, Brayden Toneff and Nate Trunck.
The State Line Stars are young for their level. The team is made up of mostly seventh graders with a few sixth graders also in the mix. Every player on the team has the chance to step into the plate – another oddity for traveling teams.
“A lot of teams have POs, who are just pitchers, so kids only show up when they’re pitching,” Sedlar said. “Our whole year, we’ve beaten our entire roster. That’s unheard of.”
The Perfect Game Gulf Coast World Series in Florida was the biggest tournament of the season for the Stars.
The week of festivities also included skill showcases where players performed in combine-style drills. The boys were tested on their running speed, batting speed, outing speed, inside and outside throws and pitching. Sedlar said Perfect Game uses the information to create a profile about each athlete.
“Everything gets added to your profile when you go to these storefronts,” he said. “A lot of times that’s how college recruiting goes. … Perfect Game is like the Mecca of baseball at the youth and high school levels.”
In the tournament, the Stars went 5-0, including twice beating the 29th-ranked team in the nation in the semifinals and final. The Stars outscored their opponents 42-14.
Sedlar the pressure and atmosphere of the highly competitive tournament was a big draw.
“We wanted to push them,” Sedlar said. “We always wanted to play in a Perfect Game tournament and felt we had the team that could go out there and compete and make a splash.”
Sedlar, who played baseball at the University of Toledo, said he liked to see how the team reacted to that kind of stress. Win or lose, it’s an opportunity for growth.
“Development, development, development is what youth baseball should be,” he said. “If you win tournaments, that’s great, but ultimately my goal as a head coach is to prepare them as much as possible for the next level. Right now it’s high school, but I played college baseball and I want to give them a taste of that too.”
Training the mental part of being an athlete is equally important to Sedlar.
Team practice begins in November, but players spend very little time throwing baseballs until January.
Sedlar also bought two books for his team to read and dissect: “Relentless” and “Winning” by Tim Grover. Grover was the personal trainer of Michael Jordan and later Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade.
“I think it really helped them work on the mental aspects of the game,” Sedlar said. “This game is 90% mental. We really try to focus on that and a lot of kids have taken a liking to it.”
Sedlar and his assistant coach Chad Smith started the State Line Stars travel program to be different. There are four teams in the organization with plans to grow to seven next year.
Sedlar has been coaching the same group since he was 9 years old.
“I really knew that a few years ago we were building something special,” he said. “I wasn’t sure when. I didn’t say that at 13 we would win this and that, but development and maturity eventually caught up with us. I could tell that in the offseason we would benefit from having a good year with the children we had and how hard they worked.”
The State Line Stars are not currently ranked nationally, but that could change. In addition to their tournament success this summer, the team has four wins against nationally ranked teams and eight wins against state ranked teams. This included victories over the No. 1 ranked teams in Ohio and West Virginia, and the No. 3 team in Indiana.
“I could see our growth throughout the year and it continued,” Sedlar said. “We had the hiccups. We had seven losses, but out of those seven losses I don’t think there was a team that was better than us. But they’re 13 and sometimes it’s not right in your It happens. A little adversity helps you grow.
Most Stars players will return next year. The team hopes to earn more rings, but Sedlar hopes they also take the time to just enjoy the experience.
“Expectations are high, but there’s a fine line in setting high expectations and believing in them, but not putting too much pressure on them,” he said. “We have to go out there and compete, but have fun doing it.”