KINGMAN - When June rolls around so do dreams of Pennsylvania's rolling hills and freshly mowed grass in Williamsport. Southside Park is host to the nine-team Arizona District 9 Little League (11-12 year olds) All Stars tournament beginning Monday and playing through June 27 or June 28, depending upon an if necessary game.
The District 9 champion advances to the Arizona state tournament, and that champion tries to get past the West Region in San Bernardino, Calif., to play in the Little League World Series.
Kingman North Little League opens the tournament against Lake Havasu North on Field 3 at 7:30 p.m. Monday. North coach Andy Patterson is upbeat about his team's chances, especially by having all 12-year-olds on the roster.
"We've been looking real good," Patterson said. "We've got a bunch of good boys, and this is probably my best all-star team in four years."
Patterson is real high on the team's defense, both fielding and pitching. He said every one of his players can play every position on the field, and the pitching staff is eight hurlers deep with six being solid enough to eat up pitch counts.
Kingman Little League plays the Lake Havasu South - Needles, Calif., winner on Field 4 at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Kingman has its sights set on the prize as well, with six returning players from its all-star team last year.
"This team is ready to play and ready to win," said Kingman coach Matt Klenke. "You can see they have jelled quickly. They are working hard for each other, and the team's motto is 'pick each other up.'"
Kingman also boasts a six-strong pitching staff, led by Ethan Klenke and Isaac Bridges. Kingman has offensive speed and expects to be aggressive on the base paths.
Five batters for Kingman hit over .500 in the regular season. Klenke, David Dill, Michael Goodgion, Joey Norbert and Bridges are expected to lead at the plate.
9-10 All Stars
At Blythe, Calif., Kingman North moved within one win of advancing into the championship after sending Needles into the elimination bracket Thursday, 6-3.
Needles (1-1) jumped on North (2-0) early by scoring all three of its runs in the first inning. Cade Benson came on in relief for North and promptly shut the door on the Californians. Needles went scoreless the rest of the game, and North managed to get one run back in its half of the first.
North threatened in the third but stranded runners on base, and finally took command in the fourth.
"We got off to a rough start, but they played well against a tough team," said North coach Chad Benson. "It was a really good team effort and a well-played game by both teams."
Cade Benson singled in the fourth and Brodie O'Banion doubled in to drive in runs after Izaiah Orozco and Kruz Yocum started the rally with base hits.
North (2-0) played Blythe, Calif., (2-0) Thursday with the winner advancing to the championship round. Results were not available by deadline.
Kingman Little League had its tournament end Thursday in a 28-17 loss to Mohave Valley (1-1). Kingman (0-2) fell behind 28-6 before trying for an epic comeback in the sixth inning that fell short with 11 runs.
"We gave her everything we had," said Kingman coach Joe Norbert. "The boys worked hard to settle it down."
Kingman had the bases loaded when the final out was made.
Dylan Norbert went 2-2 and walked twice. Tyler Davison was 2-for-4 with a clutch hit, Paul Nicholson Jr. doubled, and Izsik Malone reached base four times.
Anthony Mulverhill played catcher and center field and had an outstanding defensive game.