The Hermiston Junior Little League all-stars are teaming up with the community to continue their winning ways.
Earlier this month, the baseball team, which plays in the 13-14 age division, won the Oregon District 3 Tournament in John Day. Then, the team took the championship trophy at the Oregon State Little League Tournament July 15-18 in Bend.
In addition to the state title, the win makes the team eligible for the West Regional Tournament, which is July 31 to Aug. 7 in San Jose. The expenses for the trip are anticipated to be fairly high, said Kelly Schwirse, wife of manager Jeff Schwirse.
The team, Schwirse said last week, was looking to raise $20,000. The goal is to raise enough money to pay for transportation, lodging and meals for the entire team, she said.
Due to the short time-frame, Schwirse said coordinating fundraising events has been difficult. However, individuals and businesses have stepped up to the plate.
“The community has been amazing,” she said. “People are just very generous. We live in a really special place.”
The once-in-a-lifetime experience features televised games on ESPN3, as they play other teams from across the Western United States. Their first game is Tuesday, Aug. 1, at 2 p.m. The winner of the tournament in San Jose will go on to the Junior World Series.
Jeff Schwirse has been involved at the coaching level with the all-stars for 14 seasons. While he’s taken three other teams to the state tournament, Kelly Schwirse said this is the first time a team has brought home the big trophy. The coaching staff also includes Ladd Edmiston and Tyler Schwirse.
A core group of six players — Sam Schwirse, Rustin Edmiston, Carter Tolan, Spencer Juul, Gavin Hunter, Ethin Randolph — have taken the field together since 2013 when they were 10 years old and placed fourth in the state tournament. They won the state title the following year as 11 year olds, Schwirse said. The rest of the 2017 team includes Angel Barron, Chase Harshfield, Trevor Wagner, Darius Jones and Alexis Rosales.
“The kids are just pumped,” Schwirse said. “This has been an end goal or dream for them.”
After this season, the team members are done with Little League, she said, as they move up to playing high school ball. A trip to the larger tournament, Schwirse said, is what the group has been swinging for since they first picked up their gloves several years ago.
Donations are tax deductible. People are asked to make checks payable to Hermiston Little League. They can be dropped off at the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce, 415 S. Highway 395, made online via www.youcaring.com/hermistonlittleleaguejuniorsallstarteam-882369 or sent to Hermiston Little League, P.O. Box 1034, Hermiston, OR 97838.