Even though Coeur d’Alene’s Little League team was knocked out of the Little League World Series last weekend, another team in north Idaho has its eyes on taking their place next year.
For only the second time in the past 35 years, Sandpoint’s 12U team advanced to the finals to face the defending champions from Coeur d’Alene Little League.
Their U10 counterparts had a similar run with a similar finish: Lewiston White put their championship hopes to bed in a 4-2 win.
In a way, the showing at the District 1 championship games affirmed the progress Sandpoint baseball community has made.
“There has been a concentrated effort in Sandpoint for the past seven years to challenge that group and become a program that cannot be overlooked,” Sandpoint Little League’s Tony Butler wrote in an email afterwards. “That progress is attributed to committed players, coaches and families who want to build Sandpoint baseball into a respected program.”
“We don’t have the population to draw from or the facilities to practice in, but all of the programs locally are finding ways to compete with the bigger cities. It really is an exciting time to watch and support all of the baseball programs in Sandpoint.”
Larger towns from CDA, Lewiston and Hayden normally dominate districts, but this year the 12U team was able to crash the party and advance to the championship round.
The team would eventually fall to CDA in the finals, but not without turning some heads and having the other towns recognize that Sandpoint is no longer a team to take lightly.
The team was a mixture of 12U and 11U players with strong pitching, an infield that turned multiple double plays, an outfield making difficult catches and a powerful offense led by Andrew Lehman’s five homers, .545 average and 20 RBI.
For Sandpoint’s 10U All Star team, the 2019 Little League District 1 All Stars Tournament was one they won’t forget.
Tied 2-2 going into the fifth, Lewiston scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take the lead. It was a tough loss for the team that blitzed Hayden, Post Falls and Lewiston Purple along the way to earn rights into the championship game.
“It was the cleanest game the 10U team had played all year,” U10 coach Ricky Klontz said, recalling the game. “[They were] making some great defensive plays that would’ve been highlight-worthy at any level.”
The U10 team will return eight of the 13 players from this year’s roster. The five who won’t return will bolster the U12 squad.