The West Linn 14U Babe Ruth Baseball team is ready to take on the world.
West Linn, which previously won the Pacific Northwest Regional — held in Calgary, Alberta, from July 24-29 — will begin play in the Babe Ruth World Series in Glen Allen, Virginia, on Friday. West Linn also won the North Oregon state title on July 22-23.
The Lions open play in the 10-team Series with a game against the Southeast champion at 1 p.m. EST at Glen Allen Stadium at RF&P Park. The team continues with additional pool play games on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
After a long summer season that's encompassed more than 50 games and given this group of players its first shot at a World Series, the Lions are ready for their chance on baseball's biggest stage.
"I'm really excited," said second baseman/catcher/pitcher Adam Simshauser. "I've been on this team since I was 9 … so it's kind of been like a childhood dream to get there and now we get to go for it."
"I'm really excited," echoed shortstop Caden Parker, another longtime team member. "I've been trying for this since I was eight."
The rest of the West Linn team includes Clay Masters, Blake DeBisschop, Colin Driscoll, Mitchell Duea, Gavin Haines, Zac Hoover, Christian Jones, Parker Stevenson, Kyle Sullivan, Ryan Talvas, Gavin Turner and coaches Ray Pearson, Tim Driscoll and Rob Hoover.
"They've been trying to get to the World Series for a long time … but now we finally did it," Pearson said.
After its opener, West Linn's other pool play games will include: vs. the Middle Atlantic champion at 1 p.m. Saturday; vs. the Virginia state champion at 1 p.m. Sunday; and vs. the New England champion at 1 p.m. Monday.
The top three teams from each of the Series' two pools will then advance to championship play, with second- and third-place teams from opposite pools meeting at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday. The winners of those games will face the first-place pool finishers in the tournament semifinals at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday. The semifinal winners will then square off in the tournament championship at 6 p.m. Aug. 17.
While the rest of the World Series field will undoubtedly include a number of talented teams, the Lions believe they'll be able to compete with the best.
"I'm feeling pretty good," said Duea, a first baseman. "We've been playing pretty well so it just comes down to if we're focused or not. But I think we have a pretty good chance."
"I'm really excited. This is these guys' last opportunity to go to the World Series so I'm glad I got to do it with them," said outfielder/pitcher Gavin Turner, who moved to West Linn from the Bay Area this year. "You have to do everything well to beat really good teams. Obviously, the defense needs to play near mistake-free, the pitching needs to be around the zone and hitting, we need to hit like we did in Calgary. If we do, we'll be fine."
The team's hitting — West Linn outscored its six regional opponents 88-25 — will likely be the key to the team's level of success at the Series.
"Last tournament, we hit really well and put up a lot of runs so I think that will be our key," Simshauser said.
"Definitely hitting," Parker added. "We are a hitting team. We're like a club team — we just hit."