A brisk wind and an ominous ceiling of clouds gave proceedings a "winter classic" feel at Walnut Grove Park Saturday morning, but luckily, the rain stayed away for the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Little League BC Provincial Championship.
For the second time in its history North Langley Little League is hosting the prestigious tournament for 11/12 Majors teams, which includes entries from White Rock, Little Mountain, South Vancouver, Forest Hills, Beacon Hill, and Trail.
All games are being played at the park’s George Zarrelli Majors Diamond.
Founded in 1991, North Langley Little League last hosted (and won) the B.C. tournament for 12 year olds in 2000.
The opening ceremonies included the reading of the Little League pledge by representatives from each team, the singing of O Canada, teams lining the basepaths, a special award presentation, a few words from tournament chair Mike Fredo, and the ceremonial first pitch, thrown by Langley Township Councillor Grant Ward.
The tournament winner will represent B.C. at the Canadian championships in Valleyfield, Que.
Historically, whichever team makes it out of the B.C. tournament goes on to do very well at the national level.
B.C. teams have won three of the last four Canadian championships.
The Langley Little League squad captured the Canadian title in 2011 and went on to wear the nationâ€™s red and white jerseys while competing at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Last summer, a team from East Nepean Little League in Ottawa won the title, ending an eight-year run of B.C. teams capturing the Canadian championship.
Before the 2013 tourney, the Canadian Little League champions hailed from Hastings (2012), Langley (2011), Little Mountain (2010), Hastings (2009), White Rock/South Surrey (2008 and 2007), and Whalley (2006 and 2005).
The North Langley all-stars include Payton Farnese, Tyson Burgess, Alex Crone, Dylan Frayne, Caleb Kaufmann, Calob Gallawan, Joe Yeomans, Liam Jeffrey, Elias Blum, Jamisen Walsh, Wade Alton, and Josh Diebert.
The team is coached by Mark Burgess and Ryan Jeffrey, and is managed by Stosh Wawrzasek.
After the first two days of competition, North Langley continues to search for its first win, after losing 7-1 to Beacon Hill in its opener Saturday and 7-0 to South Vancouver Sunday morning. The local all-stars face Trail today (Monday, July 21) at 5 p.m. at George Zarrelli diamond in their third game of the tourney.
The hosts get a bye on Tuesday, July 22, before returning to the George Zarrelli diamond on Wednesday, July 23 to play Forest Hills at 5 p.m. This game is weather permitting, of course, with rain expected to fall on Wednesday.
On Thursday, July 24, North Langley faces its district rivals from White Rock at 5 p.m.
And on Friday, July 25, the local all-stars face Little Mountain at 5 p.m.
Playoff games are slated for Saturday, July 26 at noon and 3 p.m. followed by the championship game on Sunday, July 27 at noon.
South Vancouver, Beacon Hill, and Little Mountain are all undefeated so far.
For the B.C. tournament website and schedule/scores, click here.