The CLCF 12-year-old all-stars are about to start their last summer together.
They plan to make it as good as all the others.
The 12-year-olds have won Cal Ripken state championships in each of the last three seasons. They started winning as 9-year-olds, won the 10-year-old title the next year and captured the 11-year-old championship last summer.
They’ll be shooting for a four-peat when the 12-year-old state tournament gets underway Saturday at Slater Park in Pawtucket.
“We’ve got three in a row, and I think with the hard work and commitment these kids are showing, it’s going to give us a good chance to get a fourth,” said manager Steve Manfredo. “We’re looking good.”
The team will open tournament play with a 5 p.m. game on Saturday against West Warwick, who’s been CLCF’s chief rival throughout its run.
Based on the results of the last three years and on what he’s seen so far this summer, Manfredo is confident.
“We scrimmaged Cranston Western the other day and we looked good,” Manfredo said. “From that game, I think we’re going to come out and play well.”
CLCF won’t take anything for granted, but the team is certainly the favorite. Last summer, Manfredo felt that his already strong team had taken a leap forward, and the results showed.
CLCF blew past West Warwick in the opener of the 11-year-old tournament last year then beat Darlington for a spot in the championship. After Darlington came out of the losers’ bracket, CLCF romped to a 15-1 win in the championship.
This year, CLCF is hoping for more of the same – and then some. With another state championship, CLCF would advance to the New England Regional. In the past, the team hasn’t been able to get over the hump at that stage – its highest finish was fourth.
“We always seem to run into a wall at regionals,” Manfredo said. “Hopefully we’ll get back there and make a run at winning the whole thing this year.”
Whatever happens, the CLFC stars will make sure they enjoy the ride. After all, it’s their last hurrah.
“It’s like a family thing for us,” Manfredo said. “It’s a great bunch of kids and the parents have been great. Unfortunately, this is our last year, but it’s been a great and enjoyable ride. I’m excited to get started.”