Bellevue West Little League ended the season with two championships in this year’s three-division City Tournament. Both the AAA and AA Bellevue West Diamondbacks beat out the AAA Bellevue Thunderbird Tigers and the AA Bellevue East A’s to take the title of their respective divisions. The Mercer Island Tigers won the majors division.
The AAA team won six straight to knock off the Tigers 17-5. Plagued by rain-outs, the AA tourney was forced into a single elimination format and the AA Dbacks were victorious with four straight wins.
Chris Baker, coach of the AAA Dbacks, and Jeff Neely, coach of the AA team, have worked to expand Bellevue West’s player development program and believe it plays a role in the league’s ability to compete.
“At the player pitch level, we had record turnout this year for off-season training and it shows,” says Baker.
Off-season training was added to Bellevue West’s player development program during the 2007 season. Baker’s AA team won the championship in the City Tournament that year.
“This isn’t a matter of simply having a handful of good athletes. Teams are newly formed by draft each year. Overall, the players in our league are getting better. All of the players in Bellevue West have the opportunity to become skilled in the fundamentals before the season ever starts and more are taking advantage of this opportunity each year.”
Player registration fees cover off-season training sessions held at Stod’s Baseball Training Facility in Bellevue. Registration opens in early December and winter training is held in January and February. Field practices begin in March and games start in April and run through the end of May.
At the end of the regular season, the players participate in the Bellevue – Mercer Island City Tournament in one of three divisions: AA, AAA or Majors, depending on their age. The participating leagues are Bellevue East, Bellevue Thunderbird (south), Bellevue West, and Mercer Island. The players range from age 9-12 and more than 70 teams compete each year during the first two weeks of June.
For little league players in Bellevue planning on registering next season, Bellevue West Little League serves residents in the Bellevue High School boundaries. Bellevue East serves the area north of I-90, east of 405. Bellevue Thunderbird serves the area south of I-90.
Washington State Little League is divided into 10 districts. The Bellevue and Mercer Island little leagues are part of District 9, which covers 15 leagues on the east side of Lake Washington. For more information and links to league websites, visit www.washdist9.org.