Little League's second season - all-star play in the 11-12 and 9-10 divisions - begins on Saturday with a new format in the District 1 tournament.
Instead of the traditional double-elimination format, the district has gone to a pool-play format. Each team will play four games within their pool (there are two pools in each age group), and the top four finishers in each pool advance to the single-elimination championship round, which starts July 11. The first tiebreaker is won-loss record, the second is head-to-head and the last is runs allowed ratio.
"The leagues are quite happy with this," said Mary Ann Redinbaugh, District 1 commissioner. "It guarantees you a minimum of four games.
'For the leagues who have shorter league seasons (because of weather) this is a good thing."
All four Carson City teams will be in action on Saturday. In the 11-12-year-old division, Carson American plays Carson Valley at 4 p.m. and Carson National plays Truckee at 6:30 p.m. In the 9-10 division, Carson American battles South Tahoe at 11 a.m., and Carson Nationals takes on Washoe at 1:30 p.m.
Here's a look at the Carson City entries into the tourney.
Carson American 11-12 all-stars
Manager John Valley, a fixture in youth baseball in Carson City for many years, says his team is making god progress.
"The kids' ability to play together is one of the big goals," Valley said. "You can't have nine individuals out there."
"We've got a lot of kids that have played a lot of positions. It doesn't make a difference. When I put somebody out there (for scrimmages) they've gotten the job done."
Valley admitted that he isn't sure what the strength of the team is. He's certain, however, that his squad will have to pitch well and play defense if it is going to beat the teams from the Reno area.
Beau Bickel, David Charles and Dom Mariani are the top three pitchers of a strong strong staff. Valley said he'll determine how long a pitcher will throw based on how they're doing. He's not locked into the two-pitcher format which a lot of all-star teams use.
"If a kid is dealing; throwing a one-hitter, he is going to stay out there until he hits a wall," Valley said.
Expect the American squad to play a lot of "small ball," according to Valley.
"We have pretty good speed," Valley said. "I want to score a run an inning; score anyway we have to. Once we get a run across, then we'll be swinging."
Bickel, who will pitch and play shortstop, catcher-outfielder Brett Valley, Mariani, an outfielder, third baseman Andrew Mims and shortstop Blake Plattsmier are the top hitters on the squad.
Jordan Anderson, Matt Shearer, Anthony Morris and Anthony Torkeo are battling for starting positions.
Carson National 11-12 all-stars
Kevin Hogan, a first-year manager in Carson City, is pleased with what he's seen over the past two weeks.
"We have 12 very enthusiastic kids that have committed four to six hours a day the last two weeks," he said. "They're all versed in baseball and they have great skills.
"The hardest thing for an all-star coach is to get a team to jel prior to the tournament. We've worked very hard together at getting to know each other."
Hogan has seven pitchers on his 12-man squad, and in the new pool-play format, that is a big plus. Zach Scarlett, Shea Bondi, C.J. Davis, Clay Holton, Brennan Hogan, Andrew Deterding and Jacob Price comprise the mound staff.
"My first goal is to try and throw as many different looks at teams as possible," Hogan said. "Our team is not lucky enough to have a powerhouse pitcher. We have seven very smart kids who can locate the ball. I've told all seven that any of them could start (the first game)."
Hogan's second goal is for his offense to put the ball in play, and put pressure on the opposing defense. He should be able to do it with Cameron Mayville, Ricky McDonald, Hogan and Price swinging the lumber.
Defensively, Daniel Gall is a solid gloveman at short, McDonald will start behind the plate, and Jared Wells and Stanley Juchtzer will see time in the outfield. Bondi and Davis share second base.
Carson National 9-10 all-stars
Gerry Okimura said pitching, hitting and team chemistry are the strong points entering the post-season.
Chance Quilling, Drew Moreland and Max Keller head the pitching staff. Okimura said he has several other hurlers in reserve.
"Our whole team hits," Okimura said. "I hate to single anybody out. We hit all the way down the line."
Okimura's biggest concern is playing smart defense and the lack of true outfielders.
"You can't make errors," he said. "You can't expect to make mental mistakes. I've seen the teams from Washoe play, and they don't make mistakes. We need to be very good.
"My whole (starting outfield) hasn't played there all year. It's a big adjustment for them."
Carson American 9-10 all-stars
Experience will be a huge key for manager Ron Pacheco's squad. Four players - Nicholas Domitrovich, Zach White, Austin Pacheco and Dylan Sawyers - all played on last year's squad as 9-year-olds.
"Those four will probably be the core of the team," Pacheco said. "We have ten 10-year-olds and we have experienced coaches that have been involved with all-stars before."
Pitching and hitting appear to be the strength of the squad.
"We're pretty deep," Pacheco said. "We probably have eight that can pitch. I can pull anyone in and they can throw strikes. One thing we don't have is two or three dominant pitchers that can come in and strike out people consistently.
"We have strong bats. The kids are hitting the ball real well."
Pacheco said his strongest hitters (so far) are Austin Pacheco, Sawyers, David Yamamoto and Colin McCulloch..
Pacheco's biggest concern is lack of experience in the outfield.
"When they picked the all-star team, it was a lot of infielders," Pacheco said. "We've got some good kids playing out there. They're making great strides."