Parents, players and coaches gathered near the baseball fields of the Warhill Sports Complex Monday night, to both celebrate a successful summer so far, and to look toward what could be an exciting few weeks for the Williamsburg Youth Baseball League.
The league’s 13-year-old Williamsburg All-Star team will play in the regional championships, which will be held at Field 5 in the Warhill Sports Complex starting later this week.
Meanwhile, the 8-year-old Williamsburg All-Stars not only won their regional championship in Tennessee on Sunday but will head to Florida to play in the Cal Ripken Invitational World Series next week.
“They’re both good groups of kids, and it helps that they’ve been playing with each other for a full year, including our first group of 7-year-olds, so by the time we got to All-Stars, they were used to playing together, and playing to win, something tough at any level,” said league president Tom Richardson.
“Between them, and hosting regionals right here in Williamsburg for our 13-year-olds, these kids have given us a lot to cheer for this summer.”
That 8-year-old team, after winning the district and coming in second in states, went on to be the first team in league history to both win the regional championship and earn an invite to the Cal Ripken Invitational World Series.
According to head coach Amy Rains, their level of focus and ability has helped the team this summer, and has made them a joy to both coach and watch.
“This is a huge deal for our team, the parents, but especially for these players,” said Rains. “It’s the dream of every kid who picks up a bat to play in something like this, and every kid on the team is excited about it, and they’ve worked hard for it, so they deserve to be.”
The team leaves for Jensen Beach, Florida, Aug. 3, and will play their first world series game on Aug. 6.
The 13-year-old Williamsburg All-Stars meanwhile, will enter tournament play much closer to home, with Williamsburg hosting the Southeast Regional tournament starting this week.
According to head coach Brian Schultz, there is a tendency to underestimate the home team in tournaments — something that these Williamsburg players hope to put a stop to early on in regionals.
“This same group of kids won the state title last year, and played in regionals in Florida, so I think we’re all very happy with how the team did this year,” Schultz said. “There’s also something to be said about getting to be the “home” team for regionals, we’re on familiar ground, but we have plenty to prove that we deserve to be there, and I think the other teams will be in for a rude awakening if they underestimate us.”
The Southeast Region is home not only to teams from states like Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, as well as other Virginia teams that include the Glen Allen group that finished second in the nation last year. It also includes international teams from The Bahamas, Bermuda, Curacao and the Dominican Republic, so Williamsburg will play host to some top-tier national and international baseball over the next week.
“It’s been a number of years since we’ve had a regional tournament here, which is exciting not only for the team but for Williamsburg as a whole, getting to host something like this,” Schultz said. “There’ll be a lot of incredible teams out here for the next week, and I hope to see a lot of familiar faces coming out to root for the home team!”
Want to watch?
The 13-year-old Williamsburg All-Stars will play their first three games in regionals this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, all at 7:30 p.m. at Field 5 in the Warhill Sports Complex. The full schedule for regionals will be posted online later this week at brlseregion.com.
Sean CW Korsgaard can be reached at 757-968-1529, by email email@example.com, and on Twitter @SCWKorsgaard.