Little League baseball, softball playoffs begin
Stars and Stripes
June 21 marked the official beginning of summer. Appropriately enough, it also marked the start of the Little League baseball and softball postseasons.
Two teams of Kaiserslautern Military Community All-Stars won district baseball tournaments Sunday, advancing one step closer to berths in their age group’s stateside World Series.
The Little League team of 11- and 12-year-olds was untouchable in a three-day run, piling on 59 runs, while yielding a single run. The KMC squad, which last summer won the European regional championship and advanced to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., capped the weekend with a 17-1 rout of the Wiesbaden All-Stars on Sunday at Ramstein.
New head coach Jay Woelkers utilized all of his deep roster, throwing eight different pitchers over the course of the weekend and netting eight home runs from three different hitters. Woelkers said his team finished the weekend without an error in the field.
Tyler Woodberry hit four home runs – including two grand slams – and closed out the title game on the mound with four straight strikeouts. Logan Bibb appeared as a pitcher in all three games and added a home run, while Tyson Bradley launched three homers and pitched three shutout innings.
The team now moves on to the next level of the grueling postseason, a best-of-three series against the German championship team from Baden-Wurttemberg. That series will be played July 5-7, with the winner advancing to Kutno for the regional tournament July 13-21. The winner at Kutno will move on to Williamsport for the LLWS Aug. 15-25.
The KMC found similar success one age group higher in the Junior League district tournament for ages 13-15.
Coach Eric Allen guided his team to three straight blowout wins, capped with a 22-1 win over Stuttgart in the district title game.
Jonny Oswald hit .857, Justin Wilson .800 and Kieffer Allen .777 to pace the KMC’s dynamic offense, and the three combined for seven hitless, scoreless innings and 10 strikeouts on the mound.
The Junior League does not play a country championship series, so KMC qualified for the regional tournament July 2-9 at Kutno. The winner there will advance to the Junior League World Series set for Aug. 11-17 at Taylor, Mich.
The two elder baseball age groups, meanwhile, dive into regional play over the next two weeks. The Big League, ages 15-18, holds its regional tournament Wednesday through Saturday at Stuttgart. The Senior League, ages 14-16, plays its regional tournament July 8-14 at Novara, Italy.
Among the contenders in the Big League baseball tournament is a group of All-Stars from the Bavarian Military Community, an area including Grafenwöhr, Vilseck, Hohenfels and Ansbach. The BMC is fielding its first teams since 2008, BMC American Little League president Phillip Lee said.
It’s the BMC’s youngest squad that might have the best chance to make noise in this postseason.
The Junior League softball team, ages 13-15, lines up behind Elana Montanez, a hard-throwing pitching phenom from Grafenwöhr and an expected high-impact addition to Vilseck High School’s DODDS-Europe Division I program in the fall. The ace pitcher has been all but unhittable, Lee said, heading into this weekend’s district tournament, set for Friday through Sunday at Ramstein. The Little League softball district tournament, ages 11-12, will be held concurrently at Ramstein.
The BMC will also field a team in the Big League softball regional tournament July 15-18 at Staranzano, Italy.
Regional play for the three younger softball age groups is set for July 10-14 at Bollate and Caronno, Italy.