The Whalley Major Allstars are one step closer to their goal of getting to the Little League World Series.
This week, the squad of 13 boys begins its quest for a national title, the prize for which is a trip to the fabled baseball tournament in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Last Sunday (July 31), Whalley won the provincial title with a tight 3-2 win over Trail at Chris Zuehlke Memorial Park in North Vancouver.
Until the nailbiter of a final game, undefeated Whalley had dominated the round-robin tournament, topping the six other teams by a combined score of 68-6.
The team, managed by Marc Chiasson with assistant coaches Don Frick and Corry Letzing, includes players aged 11, 12 and 13.
On Thursday (Aug. 4) starting at 3 p.m., Whalley plays its first game at nationals, held this year at Hastings Community Park in Vancouver.
“The ultimate goal with this group of boys is to go all the way to represent Canada in Williamsport, in two weeks from now, and we’ll go back to practice tonight and get them ready for the challenge,” Chiasson said Tuesday.
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A Whalley team last went to Williamsport in 2006, when nationals were held at the team’s home diamond.
“It’s been 10 years,” Chiasson said, “and we think our chances of getting back there (to the Little League World Series) are as good as any team’s at nationals.”
“In Whalley,” he added, “we thrive on teaching the kids the basic fundamentals, like catching the ball with two hands, always making good throws and not panicking when the ball is hit to you, knowing what to do when the ball is hit to you, and so on. We pride ourselves on defence and hope that the bats never get cold.”
Players on the roster are Colton Frick, Haiden Letzing, Brandon Chiasson, Ethan Hein, Daniel Lafleur, Carter Spencer, Manny Birch, Rykan Stovern, James Tang, Noah Cassie, Mason Chien, Parkor Sarai and Luke Siemens.
Games played at nationals are broadcast live at 2016llcc.ca.