the north face summit series Chandler National North headed to West Region
The baseball gloves eventually came down to Earth, but the 13 players that make up the Chandler National North Little League team are hanging up in the clouds a little longer.
Well, at least until the team arrives in San Bernardino, Calif., when Chandler National will once again represent Arizona in the West Region tournament, and they take the diamond again.
“We were in shock,” shortstop/catcher Chacho Trejo said of winning the state tournament so easily. “We all threw our gloves in the air and started going crazy. It was great, and we are still kind of realizing what we did, but we have more we want to do.”
It is the third straight year Chandler National has won the state tournament, this time knocking off Douglas Little League in the championship game in Claypool on Saturday, with hopes of advancing to the Little League World Series for the third time, matching the 2003 and 2007 squads.
This team is showing plenty of potential after going 6 0 in the District 13 tournament and 5 0 at the state tournament.
“We won the first game at state 6 3 and then after that we pretty much run ruled everyone else,” coach Paul Grako said of his team that won 11 1 in the title game. “We have excellent pitching, with five aces, excellent hitting and our defense has passed every challenge so far.”
The gauntlet of the West Region has taken down many good teams from Arizona. The 2015 tournament begins on Sunday, Aug.
The team will travel out on Aug. 6 in preparation for the six team tournament that runs through Saturday, Aug. 15. The double elimination tournament also includes state champions from Nevada, Utah, Southern Cal and Hawaii.
“We want to get acclimated,” Grako said. “We have some kids back in school and some are not. We want them to get used to getting up early and ready to play early in the morning.”
The mantra of this team is no individual is bigger than the team goal and that is not always easy with a bunch of all stars. Most of the players are used to being the focus of their team, being the man, the one expected to come through in the clutch.
The reality is at this level that roles change, some are only going to get one at bat, play only an inning or two as the coaching staff tries to extend the season as long as possible.
“We really became a team in the district championship game,” said Carter Wilson, who plays center field, first base and pitcher. “We had a close game (4 3 against Ahwatukee) and we had a team meeting on the field. We got a strikeout (with the tying run on third) for the win. After that we knew if we played like a team we do something special.”
Chandler National will get that chance with the players are pledging to keep the ‘one game at a time’ approach and pretending to not let the idea of playing on national TV in Williamsport, Pa., creep into the forefront of their thoughts.
“I watch (the Little League World Series) every year,” Wilson said. “We can’t get too cocky. We have a lot of games to play, but I would love to add to that board out there (at Snediger Park) where it says ’03 and ’07 so it says 2015.”