By Ray Hamill — Five local Little League All-Star teams will be in action again in the coming days as the next step on their playoff journey continues.
Thursday night will be a busy one for McKinleyville Little League, with three of their teams playing, while the Eel River 11s will begin hosting their Area tournament on Friday and the Del Norte Seniors will travel to Oakland next week for the Western Region tournament.
The Mack 10s open their area tourney in Chico against the District 2 champions at 6:30 on Thursday night and they received a timely boost this week with the news that standout catcher Jared Brunner has been cleared to return to the lineup after missing the District tournament through injury.
In fact, the whole team has looked good in preparations.
Breyden Brock will get the start on the mound for the tournament opener.
The Mack 12s will also open their Area tournament in Anderson on Thursday night and will play Chico Eastside at 5:30 p.m.
The team has had a quick turnaround since winning the District title last week, but preparations have been going well.
The keys for the Mack players in the coming days will be getting the most out of their pitching and staying hot at the plate after a big District championship game performance last week.
“We’re really trying to expand our pitching rotation a little bit and get the bats going,” manager Patrick Green said.
Jake Brunner will get the start on the mound for the opener.
The Eel River 11s also will be in action this week and will host their Area tournament in Ferndale and Fortuna.
The five-day, four-team tournament gets under way with a pair of games in Ferndale on Friday, with the host club playing at 3:30 p.m.
“They’re getting excited,” manager Brandon Long said. “We’re hoping we can make some noise. We’ve got a pretty good team. It’s been a long season and I’m proud of the kids for sticking with it.”
If the Eel River All-Stars win their opening game, they will play again at 5 p.m. on Saturday. If they drop their opener, they will play again at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“We need to just keep hitting the ball like we’ve been hitting it, and play good smart baseball, and we’ll be fine,” Long said.
Karson Lodes will likely get the start on the mound for the opener.
Long also paid tribute to his assistant coaches Zack Lodes, Kyle Crawford and Justin Biondini, as well as all the parents and support staff that are helping to host the tournament.
“They’ve been great the whole time and helped a ton,” he said. “We couldn’t have done it without these guys.”
The tournament will switch to Fortuna on Monday after the rodeo concludes.
The McKinleyville Junior All-Stars also will be in action on Thursday night as they open their section tournament in Willows.
The Del Norte Senior All-Stars will begin play at the Western Region Tournament in Oakland on Friday of next week with a place in the 2022 Senior Little League World Series up for grabs.
More on both of those teams to follow.