BILL softball benefits from home-field advantage

Bainbridge All-Star Faith Campbell practices her swing with coach Jay Kinney Wednesday at Strawberry Hill Park. The tournament starts today at noon at the park. - Julie Busch photo
Bainbridge All-Star Faith Campbell practices her swing with coach Jay Kinney Wednesday at Strawberry Hill Park. The tournament starts today at noon at the park.
— image credit: Julie Busch photo

Baseball, Babe Ruth play on to qualify for state tournaments.

With the great honor of Bainbridge hosting the Little League District 2 softball tournament comes great responsibility – and a lot of work.

Deidre Raben, the All-Star coach for the 9- and 10-year-olds, said there have been many long hours and weekends spent laboring over the Strawberry Park fields, putting up breakaway fences and handling any other problems that arise to ensure everything runs smoothly for the 10-day tournament.

They’ll be working before and after they coach their games as well.

“It’s a little bit more work,” she said. “All the coaches and managers are putting their time in getting the field ready and making sure we have volunteers for everything.

“It’ll be worth it. I think the kids are really going to enjoy having it here.”

They’ll enjoy having the home field advantage as the 9- and 10-year-old All-Stars, the Junior All-Stars and the Major All-Stars take on teams from around their district as they compete for a shot at their respective state tournaments.

Another change in their favor is the withdrawal of several teams due to being unable to field a full squad, which happened to the Junior All-Stars last year.

East Jefferson removed their teams from the Junior and the 9- and 10-year-old All-Star bracket.

“It’s always a struggle at this age,” Junior All-Star head coach Brian Moore said of finding interested players to form a team. “At 13 and 14 you have a lot of competing interests. But they’re a dedicated group. They’re young, and they’re still learning, but they’re a fun group of girls.”

They’ll take on the Sequim All-Star team in what boils down to a best-of-three series. Game One is tomorrow at 6 p.m., with Game Two set for next Sunday at 3 p.m.

If necessary, Game Three will be played three hours later.

The two sides have clashed four times in season play, with Bainbridge ending up on the losing end of close games all four times despite having a lead.

The losses were the only ones for Bainbridge in season play.

“We know we can beat them,” Moore said. “It’s just a matter of putting everything together for seven innings.”

The Major All-Stars face off against an All-Star team made up of players from East Jefferson, South Jefferson and Port Townsend at 3 p.m. today.

If they win, they get to face Key Peninsula or Sequim tomorrow at 3 p.m.

“You gotta deal with the logistics of getting your team warmed up here and then traveling,” Majors All-Star coach Troy Greenfield said of the drawbacks of ensuring the team makes it to tournaments. “Now they can eat lunch at home and come out here and warm up and be ready to go.”

The Major All-Stars will have to deal with the loss of players thanks to the change in the Little League age brackets to allow teams to take on more kids that are under the age limit.

Several 12-year-olds opted to move up to the Junior All-Star team, leaving Greenfield with just four returners from last year’s team.

But he’s excited about the girls that moved up to play on the team.

“We’ve got a lot of younger girls that are on the team this year that will be around for another year,” he said. “It’s exciting. It’s a good mix of kids.”

The 9- and 10-year-old All-Stars play Sequim at 3 p.m. today, with the winner facing the North Kitsap All-Star team tomorrow at 6 p.m.

Raben feels her team is ready to play.

“We have a good team,” she said. “We have strong pitching, super-strong defense and strong bats. As long as it all comes together, we should do well.”

Mike Sheehan, president of the league, is glad the tournament is returning to Bainbridge.

“We’re excited to host the tournament,” he said. “I hope the people of Bainbridge Island come out and support the girls.”

The Bainbridge Island baseball All-Star teams also started district play this weekend.

The Major American and National All-Star teams took on the Port Townsend and Key Peninsula All-Star teams, respectively, at the Virgil Stacey Memorial Complex in Olalla.

The American All-Star team plays at 1 p.m. today. The National All-Stars played yesterday.

The 10- and 11-year-old All-Star teams also play in Olalla, with the American team playing today against the winner of the Gig Harbor American and National All-Star game at 3:30 p.m.

The National team played against South Kitsap Western yesterday.

The 9- and 10-year-old All-Star teams travel to Art Mikelsen Field in Port Orchard for their district tournament.

The American team takes on Gig Harbor National at 2:30 p.m. today.

The National team played yesterday against the East/South Jefferson All-Stars.

The Bainbridge Babe Ruth All-Star teams are competing for a shot at their respective state tournaments as well.

The 15-year-olds won their tournament by defeating Bremerton and South Kitsap twice.

Steffen Dacquisto and Jordan Gaphni allowed one hit against Bremerton.

Kiyle Playter hit a two-run homer against Bremerton.

Ian Powell struck out seven, walked two and gave up one run on a home run in the championship game against South Kitsap.

Cory Slater and Kiyle Playter combined to catch all three games, allowing no stolen bases and no passed balls.

As a team, the 15-year-olds committed only four errors.

They move onto the state tournament July 13-16 in Othello.

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