The crack of the bat, balls flying out of the yard and runners crossing the plate. The road to the Little League World Series has started in earnest for hundreds of teams across the United States as well as internationally.
The destination is South Williamsport, Pa., Aug. 16-27 for 12U all-star teams. Other divisions, from 10U to Senior leagues, are scattered across the country and start in late July.
The 12U LLWS will feature 20 teams from around the globe, including 10 in the United States bracket and 10 in the international bracket.
Will an East County team from either or California District 41 Little League or California District 66 Little League make it that far? Anything is possible, of course, and the answer to that question will be answered over the coming weeks as teams qualify through district, section, divisional and regional tournaments.
Alpine American Little League from District 41 and Spring Valley Little League from District 66 will carry the torch for East County on the road to the LLWS.
Peak of excitement
Alpine American defeated Rancho de Oro to capture the District 41 championship banner on July 9.
Spring Valley defeated Valley de Oro, 7-2, to claim the District 66 championship flag on July 8 in a double-elimination replay.
Both Alpine American and Spring Valley now advance to Section 7 championship tournaments where they will square off against teams from District 22 (El Centro) and District 42 (Eastlake) in a double-elimination format.
Alpine American, which previously won the District 41 Majors Division Tournament of Champions, won its pool to start all-star play with wins over El Cajon National (10-0) and Mountain Empire (14-0).
Other pool winners included Rancho de Oro, Santee National, West Hills, Lakeside National, Fletcher Hills, Lakeside American and El Cajon National.
It took 15 games in the eight-team double-elimination bracket to determine this year’s 12U District 41 champion.
Alpine American defeated Santee National, Lakeside National and Rancho de Oro to advance to the championship game.
Rancho de Oro eliminated Fletcher Hills to draw a rematch with Alpine American but could not force a second championship game.
Spring Valley opened its double- elimination bracket with victories against Twin Hills (3-2) and Valley de Oro (4-0), Valley de Oro defeated Twin Hills, 4-2, in the elimination bracket final to draw a rematch with Spring Valley in what turned out to be a two-game championship series.
Valley de Oro won the first match-up, 3-0, to force a double-elimination final that went to Spring Valley.
The Intermediate 50/70 Baseball World Series is scheduled July 30 to Aug. 6 in Livermore.
The Junior League Baseball World Series is scheduled Aug. 13-20 in Taylor, Mich.
The Senior League Baseball World Series is scheduled July 29 to Aug. 5 in Easley, S.C.
Little League Baseball tournaments in the 10U and 11U age brackets end at the divisional level.
The West Region tournament for the 12U division is scheduled Aug. 8-11 in San Bernardino.
The 10U Southern California divisional championship, hosted by California District 72 Eastvale, is scheduled July 22-31.
The 11U SoCal divisional championship, hosted by California District 43 Newmark, is scheduled July 22-30.
The road to the 11U SoCal championship started on Sunday, July 9, as Rancho de Oro defeated Santee National.
The 10U district championship was scheduled to be decided on Tuesday, July 11, as Santee National and Alpine American dueled it out in a double-elimination game.
California District 66 Little League covers the western portion of East County and northern part of South County. Champions were determined in sixdivisions:
10U Division: Lemon Grove 3, Spring Valley 2
11U Division: Spring Valley 8, San Diego American 7
12U: Spring Valley 7, Valley de Oro 2
Intermediate Division: Valley de Oro
Junior Division: Spring Valley 12, Encanto 2
Senior Division: Spring Valley defeated Encanto in a best-of-three series.
California District 41 is scheduled to host the Section 7 Junior League All-Star tournament July 8-12 at Jamul Little League between representatives from District 66 (Spring Valley), District 41 (Lakeside American), District 44 (El Centro) and District 42 (Park View).
California District 66 is scheduled to host the Section 7 11U Little League All-Star tournament July 15-19 at Spring Valley Little League.
California District 42 will host the Section 7 Little League 12U championship tournament at Eastlake Little League, with dates to be announced.
Sweetwater Valley Little League hosted the Section 7 Intermediate Division All-Star tournament June 28 through July 1 between representatives from District 66, District 41 and District 42.
Sweetwater Valley defeated District 41 champion West Hills, 21-4, in the winners bracket final to advance to the championship game. Sweetwater Valley then defeated District 66 champion Valley de Oro, 16-1, to claim the section banner.
West Hills doubled up Valley de Oro, 8-4, in an opening round game while Valley de Oro came back to eliminate West Hills, 4-3, to advance to the championship game.
Spring Valley Little League hosted the Section 7 Senior League All-Star tournament June 28 to July 2 between representatives from District 42 (Park View), District 22 (Yuma) and District 66 (Spring Valley).
Yuma defeated Spring Valley, 14-4, to grab the division title and advance to the SoCal tournament July 6-15 hosted by District 72.
Brawley Little League from California District 22 will host the 10U Section 7 tournament.
First-round pairings have already been set in both the U.S. and international brackets for this year’s Little League World Series.
Each bracket includes two playing games. Those are scheduled for Aug. 16 and feature the Mountain region champion against the Metro region champion and the Southwest region champion against the Mid-Atlantic region champion in the U.S. bracket and the Europe-Africa champion against Panama and Japan against Cuba in theinternational bracket.
The Northwest, New England, Southeast, Midwest, West and Great Lakes region champions begin play on Aug. 17 as do the Caribbean, Australia, Latin America, Mexico, Canada and Asia-Pacific champions in the international bracket.