Like its competition, the Westport 12u all-star team has its eye on a potential run through the District 2 Little League playoffs.
The path isn't expected to be easy.
With a playoff that's likely to include three other heavyweights -- Fairfield National, last summer's 11-year-old champion, Fairfield American, the three-time defending 12-year-old state champions, and unbeaten Trumbull National -- Tim Rogers, Westport's head coach, believes getting through the district would be a "major milestone."
"It's a tough tournament," Rogers said. "The district is impossible. It's brutally tough."
Westport, of course, has to first get past the round-robin section of the tournament. It has won its first three pool-play games, holding opponents scoreless, and can clinch a berth in the district playoff with a win Friday.
After coaching this summer's group of all-stars to a runner-up finish in the district as 11s -- nine of 11 players are returning from that team, Rogers noted -- he believes this team has "unlimited potential." Rogers also coached the team two summers ago as 10s, when they won the district and lost in the Section 1 finals to Edgewood Little League of Bristol.
"When I look at the depth of our pitching and the depth of our hitting, it's hard to imagine a team beating us," he said. "But we've lost before."
The district playoffs -- a double-elimination, four-team tournament -- will begin Monday. All games will be played at Unity Park in Trumbull.
Through pool play, Westport's pitching has been near unhittable. With a staff anchored by right-handers Harry Azadian and Chad Knight, they've allowed only one hit in three games.
"They both throw hard," Rogers said. "They have good breaking balls with command."
Westport continued its sparkling start Monday, topping Fairfield American 3-0 behind a three-run fifth inning. Rogers said a key for his team will be timely hitting, which Westport happened to get in its latest win.
"I look at our lineup and have a lot of comfort no matter who's at the plate," the manager said.
Westport opened pool play last week, defeating Trumbull American 14-0. It followed that with a shoutout of North End (Bridgeport), 10-0.
With some promising early returns, Rogers is hopeful that his team can trek through the difficult path that's likely awaiting.
"I certainly hope that's within our reach," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised to see us one of the last teams standing in the district. But I think there are three other teams that feel the same way."
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