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Major division all-stars set to begin in Folsom

Woodcreek looks for repeat title
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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The premiere all-star event each year is the Major division tourney, which begins with a district tournament and continues before eventually sending teams to the Little League World Series. All four local leagues will send teams to McFarland Park in Folsom with big dreams. Both Pool B and Pool C will make for difficult work as Maidu and Woodcreek sit with Folsom American and El Dorado Hills North in B, while Lakeside, Roseville West and EDH South all fight for the two advancing spots from Pool C. Woodcreek The power hitting of Hank Pankratz, Carson Farnworth, Chris Loeb, Nate Kaslan and Scott Saylor will lead Woodcreek, though this team is also loaded with pitching. “I feel our team is very solid both in the field and at the plate,” said manager Jamie Clifton. “With some added pitching this year, I feel this team could be one of the best to come out of Woodcreek.” The Woodcreek team has some unfinished business after having been bumped out of last year’s 11-year-old tourney short of a section title. Clifton likes his squad’s chances at getting through the district minefield to take another shot at sections. “We fell short last year in the finals of section,” Clifton said. “At the plate we bring some of the best power I have seen out of 12 year olds.” In a league that sent both teams to the district Tournament of Champions final, Woodcreek would have to be the favorite going into this Major event. Maidu Four 11-year-olds are part of the squad for the new-look Maidu Little League, made from the combination of Roseville East and Maidu. “The look of the team will be very different than either league is used to seeing in their previous All-Stars,” said manager Greg Zanolli. “With the team consisting of six previous Maidu players, two Roseville East Players and four newcomers to the league, there is optimism the merger will provide a stronger team than either league would have fielded on its own.” Catcher R.J. Johnson played in this tournament a year ago, and he will be back along with Alex Ignatowicz, Jordan Bridges and Cedric Johnson along with those four 11-year-olds - Nolan Murphy, Jake Rodrigues, Tim Wieser and Joseph Zanolli. “This year’s squad will be very versatile and scrappy and will need to play at the top of their game as their draw in the pool play format doesn’t provide for any easy matchups,” Zanolli said. Roseville West Manager Dave Grashoff is relying on depth at the pitching position to lead his team into a difficult bracket. While Ian Codina carries the big power stick, this is largely a contact team with good speed. “We have some new faces to this years Roseville West all-star team,” Grashoff said. “This is a very talented group with depth at pitching. Lefties Kyle Downie and Matty Grashoff along with Ian Codina will lead the way on the mound. Add hard throwers Jacob Vaughn and John Burcham to the staff and you weill see we are pretty deep pitching wise.” Grashoff can look to a solid defense to provide his pitchers with more than enough support. “The addition of Matthew Razzano adds depth at the catching position,” Grashoff said. “He is big and quick with a strong arm. Chris Anderson and Adam Erickson lead a solid group of players on the defensive side. Anderson has terrific hands and footwork at short.” Lakeside The bulk of this year’s Lakeside team won a district 9/10 title two years ago before being unable to duplicate the feat as 11-year-olds last season. Manager Bill Rockefeller is looking for the disappointment of that ouster to fuel his team in this tournament. “An early exit in the tournament was very disappointing,” Rockefeller said. “I think we all learned from that. We are a very mature 12-year-old team. This year we will take no one lightly.” Zach Hall, Nick Frank, Connor Briare, and Mitch Hart lead a great group of power pitchers and power hitters for Lakeside. This team is filled with long ball threats up and down the lineup. “They all hit very well,” Rockefeller said. “This class of 12-year-old players hit more home runs then I can remember any other class in the eight years I have been involved with Lakeside Little League.” Rockefeller says that in addition to pitching and offensive dominance, this Lakeside team is three-deep at every defensive position. “We take defense very seriously,” Rockefeller said. The Major tournament is being played at McFarland Park in Folsom, and being at 11 a.m. Saturday morning. FYI: What: District 54 Major all-star tournament Where: McFarland Park, Folsom Saturday: Roseville West vs. EDH South, 5 p.m.; Lakeside vs. Snowline, 7:30 p.m. Sunday: Maidu vs. Folsom American, 11 a.m.; Woodcreek vs. EDH North, 1:30 p.m. For daily results and schedules, come back often to rosevillept.com.