Forget that he slammed three homers in one day and woke up the next morning to pitch the clinching game in a tournament championship. The fact that Louis Ullrich is playing baseball right now is his most impressive accomplishment.
Ullrich batted .421 with 14 RBI as the Virginia Barnstormers swept all six games to win last weekend's National Amateur Baseball Federation regional tournament in Waldorf and qualify for the 18-and-under NABF World Series beginning Thursday in Jackson, Miss. He showed no signs of a freak back injury that nearly ended his career.
In April 2003, Ullrich suffered a pair of fractured bones in his back during a set of squats. He was in a full-body cast for the next three months, and continued to wear the cast part-time for three more months.
By last fall, Ullrich was able to return to the field, taking practice swings. As he played his senior season for Westfield High, which advanced to the Virginia AAA final, he did so with hesitancy.
"I felt real good in high school" during the season, he said, "but I was a little scared to go too quickly. I was worried if I did something a little too fast, I would've been back to where I was" a year earlier.
Ullrich smacked a pair of grand slams in a 17-11 victory over the Long Island (N.Y.) Cardinals last Saturday morning. Later that day, Ullrich's solo homer broke a tie, sparking the Barnstormers to a 7-3 victory over the Long Island Mariners in eight innings.
The following day, Ullrich pitched a complete-game six-hitter to defeat Greenbelt American Legion, 4-3, in the championship game.
"I've had good weekends, but never anything that good," said Ullrich, who will play at Longwood next season. "I just lowered my hands a bit and the ball started flying off the bat. . . .
"I do know that I will not touch a squat bar ever again the rest of my life."
Rock of the Bays
Almost a year after Xavier Rock watched the Casa Mia Bays win their first national soccer championship in Germantown, he played a prominent role in leading the under-16 Bays to their second straight U.S. Youth Soccer Association title on Sunday in Orlando.
Rock scored two goals in a 3-0 championship victory against Washington state's FC United and earned the tournament's Golden Boot award, which is given to the player deemed to have the most impact on offense.
"I saw the Bays win last year, and I wanted to be a part of that," said Rock, who played for the rival Potomac Cougars last year but joined the Bays just months after they won the under-15 title last summer. "I wanted this national championship so bad because it's always been a dream of mine."
A sophomore forward for Interstate Athletic Conference champion Georgetown Prep last season, Rock said he will attend McDonogh (Balt.) this fall, where he will play for the Casa Mia Bays and Eagles varsity coach Stephen Nichols.
The Bays also benefited from the strong defensive play of second-team All-Met defender and rising Lackey senior A.J. Delagarza.
Coleman Named to U.S. Juniors
St. John's All-Met Marissa Coleman was one of the 12 basketball players selected to the U.S. women's junior world championship team, which will compete in the FIBA Americas Junior World Championship Qualifying Tournament Aug. 4-8 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The top three teams advance to the 2005 FIBA Junior World Championship, slated for Tunisia in July 2005.
Coleman averaged 18.5 points and 11.4 rebounds as a junior at St. John's last winter. . . .
Bishop McNamara is among five of the nation's top-ranked girls' basketball teams that will compete in the seventh annual Best of Maryland Tournament at Damascus High this weekend.
McNamara will be joined by summer teams from Sacred Heart Academy of Kentucky, Chaminade-Julienne of Ohio, ThunderRidge of Colorado and St. Mary's of Arizona at the 20-team event. Several top local teams, including City Title champion Theodore Roosevelt, Arundel and Paint Branch, will also compete.
The championship is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Saturday.
Staff writer Judith Evans contributed to this report.