Saturday, April 21, 2018
Sports

Tougher challenges await for Little League squads

Little League baseball and softball teams are still alive in postseason tournaments from around Tampa Bay. And area teams are strong as usual. As these all-star squads get deeper into the playoffs, more difficult tournaments await to test prowess and chemistry on the diamond. Here's this weekend's slate of state tournaments:

Minors (9-10) Baseball

Where: Cuyler Park, Mims

When: Today-Monday

Teams: Keystone, North Brandon, Apopka, Southwest Port St. Lucie, Greater Naples, Baker County, Chaires, Kendall

Update: With the big hitters from North Springs, West Melbourne and Winter Garden moving up to the 10-11 minors and majors divisions, Keystone and North Brandon are included in a wide-open field this weekend near Titusville. The winner qualifies for the Southeast Region Tournament of Champions in Ceredo-Kenova, W.Va., July 26-31.

Minors (10-11) Baseball

Where: Max K. Rodes Park, West Melbourne

When: Today-Monday

Teams: Palm Harbor, West Melbourne, Winter Garden, Niceville-Valparaiso, South Fort Myers, DeLand, Buffalo Creek, North Springs

Update: Last season, Plant City not only won state, but also regionals. Palm Harbor hopes to follow in those footsteps. The winner qualifies for the Southeast Region Tournament of Champions in Greenville, N.C., July 26-31.

Minors (9-10) Softball

Where: Conway Recreation Park, Orlando

When: Today-Monday

Teams: Keystone, New Tampa, Niceville-Valparaiso, Viera-Suntree, Callahan, Windermere, Cape Coral

Update: Land O'Lakes won state and region titles last year. If Keystone or New Tampa is to have similar success, the journey begins this weekend. The winner qualifies for the Southeast Regional Invitational in Luray, Va., July 25-30.

Minors (10-11) Softball

Where: Larry Linton Youth Sports Complex, Lake Wales

When: Today-Monday

Teams: South Tampa, Yulee, Windermere, Eau Gallie, Lehigh Acres

Update: South Tampa hopes to follow Citrus Park as the second Hillsborough County club to win the state title in as many years. Citrus Park also won regionals. The winner qualifies for the Southeast Regional Invitational in Luray, Va., July 25-30.

Majors (11-12) Softball

Where: Rarick Field, Niceville

When: Today-Monday

Teams: Keystone, Bloomingdale, Windermere, Viera-Suntree, Cape Coral, Orange City, Niceville-Valparaiso

Update: Defending champion Windermere returns as the favorite after reaching the championship game of last year's Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Ore. The winner qualifies for the Southeast Region Tournament in Warner-Robins, Ga., July 24-30.

Juniors (13-14) Softball

Where: Fleishman Regional Complex, Fort Myers

When: Saturday-Tuesday

Teams: South Tampa, Dade City, East Orange, West Melbourne, Naples, Cocoa

Update: After the impressive performance that the Palma Ceia/Tampa Bay Little League All-Stars put up last year, South Tampa and Dade City know they are capable of going far in this field. The champion will qualify for the Southeast Region Tournament, also in Fort Myers, July 26-Aug. 1.

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