PLANT CITY — Games started back in February for Little League baseball and softball players, but they take on an entirely different feel with the beginning of all-star district tournaments.
Mike Sansone Park will host Florida's District 4 softball games, while two teams of Plant City 9-10 year old baseball all-stars head to Polk City to start their quest.
Only three teams are entered in each of the softball tournaments so the schedules are pretty identical. As host, Plant City gets a bye in both the 9-10 and 11-12 double-elimination tourneys. North Lakeland will face Lake Wales Sunday at 1 in each age division. The winner plays Plant City Monday at 6 p.m.
The loser of Monday's game plays the loser of Sunday's game and then rematches against the victor. A team isn't eliminated until it loses twice.
Plant City does not have a team in the Seniors tournament, where Lake Wales has the bye and the other two entrants are North Lakeland and Polk City.
The Minors Baseball tourney starts Sunday with Plant City's No. 2 entry taking on Auburndale at 5. "Plant City 1" gets the first-round bye in the seven-team field and will play Monday at 6 against the Haines City-North Lakeland 1 winner.
District champions alone will advance to the next level, sectional tournaments, with the hope of winning a state title after that. For the younger age groups the quest ends there.
For others a World Series is the dream. The most well known finals site in Williamsport, Pa., is the mecca for 11-12 year old teams. That age group does not get under way until next weekend.
While there is no district tournament for the Machine Pitch age group, a Plant City team deserves special mention. Pool Masters went 18-0 over the regular season and was the only perfect squad across all of the Plant City age groups.
In the May city championships, Pool Masters dominated its first two playoffs and knocked off seventh-seeded Lions Club 17-7 in the finals.
In the Majors (11-12) finals, sixth-place Chemical Dynamics, beat No. 5 Brandon Pest Control 6-5.
Darek Sharp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.