Little League brings state championship to island

"Skyway Foster Renton North Little League coach Henry Rance (right) and player Kyle Walsh stand for the Star Spangled banner last Tuesday at the start of the All-Stars championship tournament.Matt Johnson / staff photosThe best 15- and 16 year-old baseball players in Washington made South Whidbey their home during the past week and made baseball the official sport of summer at the South Whidbey Community Park.Starting on July 17, eight teams of All-Stars faced each other on the park's fields in the Senior Little League All-Star state championship tournament. Hosted by South Whidbey Little League and Little League District 11, the event was the first state Little League tournament held on South Whidbey. Though no South Whidbey players were on the District 11 team, South Whidbey Little League president Ursula Shoudy said hosting the tournament was a boost for the local club's standing in the organization.It's nice, she said.The teams were built from the best players on a number of clubs at the end of the regular season and the All-Stars played some of the slickest ball ever seen on South Whidbey. Langley's Craig Cyr took his family to some of the weekend games. He said baseball at this level was definitely fun to watch.Before the first games started last week, the teams' coaches and players had their own ideas about who would go to the championship game. Skyway-Foster-Renton North coach Henry Rance said his team was ready to go all the way.We're the team to watch, he said.As it turns out, they were not. The team took an early exit from the double-elimination tournament. The teams that stayed in to the end were the Bad Boys from District 8 and District 5 team from West Valley -- Yakima. In Monday's championship game, the Bad Boys used flawless pitching and fielding to overpower the physically larger West Valley players in a 3-0 shutout. The team scored all their runs in the fourth inning, then put the game into pitcher Chris VanSanten's hands.The Bad Boys were undefeated during the tournament.Tournament officials said the Community Park was such a good venue that future tournaments might come to the facility. Oak Harbor umpire consultant Ken Tyler said he enjoyed his week on South Whidbey.This is a great facility, he said.Shoudy said concessions sales and raffles during the tournament paid the all the event's expenses. "

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