The majority of this year’s West Side Little League 12-year-old all-star baseball team hasn’t won a District 9 tournament championship for at least three years.
Yet, the squad will be expected to win the title when the tournament begins Saturday in Hamilton.
A West Side team has never failed to capture the championship since the tournament for 12-year-olds began in 1985, and coach Tim Nichting said the goal remains the same. There is no reason this group can’t keep the streak alive.
“Having not won the district at 10 or 11, we have a lot of work ahead, but I hope the hard work to this point has paid off for us to win the district,” Nichting said. “They are 12-year-old kids, so I would hope they don’t feel pressure. I would hope they are still kids. But having won the district every year they want to continue the tradition.”
West Side opens the District 9 tournament 8 p.m. Saturday against Anderson Township. The tournament, which runs through July 13, also features teams from Loveland, Little Miami, Mason, Monroe, West Chester and Hamilton-Fairfield Little Leagues. District 9 encompasses Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, Highland and Warren counties with 14 leagues, close to 7,000 players and 500 teams across all divisions.
West Side’s roster features just two returners from last year’s team, as Nick Brosius and Clint Moak both played as 11-year-olds. The others were on the 11s team and lost to Loveland in the district tournament.
Nichting said having Brosius and Moak will help the group come in better prepared. Last year’s team had 10 returning players from the year before.
“I think it will help the rest of the kids understand what we’re about,” said Nichting, who was an assistant to Ken Coomer for the 12-year-old team last year but was the head coach the previous season. “They’re both nice ball players – they bat third and fifth in the order and both play second base and can pitch and Clint can play outfield too. The experience of being there and knowing what it takes to win, I think will help.”
Brosius and Moak are among the top hitters on the team, joined by Eddie Tanner, Ethan Stone, Jonathon Alcorn and Noah Prewitt.
Moak, Tanner, Stone, Alcorn and Prewitt are the top pitchers.
“It’s a typical bunch of West Side kids,” Nichting said. “Defense is our strong point. Our pitching looks good and our hitting is coming along. It all starts with throwing strikes and playing good defense, so we feel good about that.”
West Side, a four-time World Series participant, won the state tournament last year to earn its 17th regional appearance. The organization has won 10 of the last 12 state titles at the 12s division.
Lebanon, the 12-year-old district runner-up last year, doesn’t have a team entered this year.
“We hope to surprise some people,” Nichting said. “I think we’re expected to win the district because we’ve won every year, so I wouldn’t expect any different, but we won haven’t the last two years so we do have something to prove.”
West Side Little League president Becky Couch said she looks forward to the tournament getting started.
“We just hope the community comes out to support us like they always do,” Couch said. “We’re excited for another good tournament.”