By Ray Hamill — The Del Norte Senior All-Stars are gearing up for a big week as they get set to begin play at the Western Region Tournament in Oakland.
And the team bats will be key, as they look to continue the standard they set on the way to winning the Oregon State championship recently.
At stake is a trip to this year’s Senior Little League World Series in Easley, South Carolina, and they’ll have to battle the best teams in their age group from all across the West Coast to get there.
And the players and coaches are looking forward to the opportunity.
“I hope we can go down there and be as competitive as we can be,” coach Jon Nelson said. “And hopefully take home another banner.”
Offensive production has not been a problem for this team, which put up 55 runs in three games during their Oregon State championship series against OreCal.
Del Norte rallied to win two straight games by scores of 18-2 and 22-3 after dropping their opener 17-15 in what was a high-scoring series.
Pitching and defense also were instrumental in the championship run, with Del Norte holding the OreCal bats in check after the opening loss.
Sylas Sampels, whom the coach describes as “our go-to guy,” leads the pitching staff and will be expected to play a key role again this weekend.
But he’s not the only arm the coaches will turn to in what could be a busy few days.
“We’ve got some exceptional pitchers,” Nelson said. “They’re throwing the ball really well and they’re able to locate it. We’re getting a lot of strikeouts.”
A tight-knit team of 11 also includes Ben Shrewsberry, Greyson Franklin, Jake Shrewsberry, William Nelson, Landon Tisue, Anthony Cardenas, Zephyr Hussey, Mason Borges, Saxton Taylor and Donovan Hintz and is coached by Jon Nelson and Matthew Shrewsberry.
Nelson describes Cardenas as “pretty outstanding,” and says “he was on base 80 percent of the time” during the Oregon state championship series.
Cardenas and Zephyr Hussey both hit home runs in the series, while the consistent William Nelson hit four doubles.
More importantly, this is a time that has plenty of depth and one that has clicked on and off the field.
The 10-team tournament will be played at Laney College and College of Alameda and will run for six days.
If the Del Norte boys are crowned champions, they will fly out to South Carolina for the World Series the following day.
A GoFundme Page has been set up to help offset the costs of traveling for the tournament.