It's been a big week for the area's youth baseball teams, as Thurston County (TC) Saints will be sending teams to two different World Series, while the Black Hills Cal Ripken 9U team qualified for a World Series after winning its regional tournament last weekend.
The TC Saints, ran by former Capital High coach Michael "Whitey" Spencer, has its 18U, 16U and 13U heading to World Series. Its 18U and 16U teams will be at the USABF World Series in San Diego July 27-Aug. 3.
The Saints' 18U (45-6) American roster features six players who were members of The Olympian's all-area team: Olympia's Leo Valenti (player of the year), Elliott Loague and Joey Knight, Timberline's Matt Mercer and Benny Kaleiwahea and Tumwater's Garrett Terrell. The 16U teams also feature some of the area's younger high school players.
The 13U team (45-10) features many seventh and eighth graders at local middle schools, and plays in the Triple Crown World Series in Steamboat Springs, Colo., starting Tuesday, July 23 through July 28.
BLACK HILLS CAL RIPKEN
Four Black Hills Cal Ripken all-star teams are still alive, including its 9-year-old team, which qualified for the USSSA World Series starting Aug. 5 in Chino Hills, Calif. The 9U team are state and regional champions, winning last weekend's regional tournament in Meridian, Idaho.
Eleven of the 13 players are 9 years old; two others are 7 and 8 years old, respectively.
“It’s a good mix of kids who work really hard,” said Jon Oram, a coach with the 9U team and head coach of the 10U team. “They’re accustomed to winning and, more importantly, being respectful and playing the game right.”
Black Hills' 12U 70-foot bases team begins regional play July 29 at Centralia's Fort Borst Park vying for a shot at the Cal Ripken World Series in Aberdeen, Md. The 11U and 10U team also begin their regional tournaments July 24-27 in Helena, Mont. While regionals is as far as the 11Us can go, the 10U can qualify for its Cal Ripken World Series in Ocala, Fla., by winning this weekend's regional tournament.
-- Meg Wochnick, staff writer