A pair of Spanish Springs Cal Ripken teams will represent Nevada at regional tournaments this month.
The local 9U and 12U (70-foot base paths) squads won state titles on June 26 at Eagle Canyon Park in Spanish Springs to earn spots in the Pacific Southwest Regional Tournaments.
The 9U team will start pool play on July 18 in Vernal, Utah, while the 12U bunch hopped on a plane to Honolulu over the weekend and starts pool play tonight.
For 12U coach Wayne Smith, it is his fifth time taking a team to this tournament. This time, however, it’s a little different.
“In the past we’ve always went to Utah or California so obviously that was a little bit easier to do financially as well as taking time off and what not,” Smith said.
Cal Ripken covered the majority of airfare to get the team to the island but fundraising was still needed to help pay for a hotel, food, additional travel, etc.
In the state tournament (just a four-team field with Fallon, Silver State and Sun Valley), the team won each game via the 10-run mercy rule, only allowing “four or five” runs in the four total games.
Competition will be drastically stiffer this week.
“The boys have been playing really well lately. It’s just kind of hard to say what I’m going to get out of them in a setting like Hawaii,” Smith said. “I’m sure they’ll all get sunburnt the first day and we’ll take it from there.
“They’ve definitely been having fun playing, which at that age is a huge deal. Hitting is always kind of hit and miss, because you can run into a pitcher that dominates the game. I’d give them an A-plus lately defensively. As long as they continue to play defense, I think they can be in a lot of games.”
The Spanish Springs 12U state champions are one of 10 teams in the regional tournament which is broken into two, five-team pools.
They open against one of three Hawaii teams in the field tonight, play two games Tuesday against another Hawaii team and Northern Utah, then wrap up pool play on Wednesday against Arizona.
In the other pool is the third team from Hawaii, Northern California, Central California, Southern California and Guam.
To advance to bracket play (which starts Friday), they would have to finish in the top three of their pool. The first-place finisher in each pool earns a first-round bye.
The 9U team is coached by JD Kiley, who took the 8U team to regionals a summer ago.
Kiley’s bunch had to get past Silver State and Fallon in the state tournament to punch a trip to Utah.
The 9U Pacific Southwest Regional Tournament is broken into three, four-team pools: Cal Ripken, Bill Ripken and Babe Ruth. The top two finishers in each pool advances to bracket play.
Spanish Springs opens against Northern Utah in the Babe Ruth pool next Monday, has the following day off, then plays the second Northern California team and Southern Utah on back-to-back days.
The Cal Ripken pool is made up of Vernal (host team), Arizona No. 2, Northern California No. 1 and Central California No. 1. The Bill Ripken pool is home to Arizona No. 1, Central California No. 2, Southern California and Northern Utah No. 2.