Optimism is high for Little League baseball teams in Ocean County, NJ and Jersey Shore to make a run to Williamsport, PA
It's the most exciting time of the year for Little League baseball everywhere as teams from every league, district, group, state, etc. push for the ride of a lifetime with eyes set on Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and a World Series title.
The seasons are done, and all-star tournaments and playoffs are already underway as teams continue to battle their way through local action with higher aspirations on the horizon.
Etched in recent memory were the bids by Toms River East Little League, Toms River Little League, and Holbrook Little League in Jackson who made outstanding runs and came oh so close to getting to and winning the big game as TRELL nearly did in 2021 led by Coach and TRELL President Paul Mika.
"Great group of kids, great program, everything, I'm just so happy for them, they went through a lot -- those kids," Frank Trenkle, District Administrator for NJ Little League: District 18 and NJ Little League Section 3 Coordinator, told Townsquare Media on 'Shore Time with Vin and Dave' on 94.3 The Point and 105.7 The Hawk Sunday.
In other recent history was the 1998 Toms River East Little League team led by players including Todd Frazier and Casey Gaynor who defeated Japan to win the Little League World Series.
There is optimism we could have several Ocean County and Jersey Shore teams make a run this summer with one possibly winning the whole thing in Williamsport.
"We've got some good teams this year, we've got some really good games going on in the Little League Division -- which is the Williamsport Dream Division I call it -- Toms River East is good, they did really well the last two years," Trenkle said. "Beachwood has a really good team this year, really good, and they could win it too."
Games are ongoing heading into this week and beyond as baseball and softball teams try and make a push for a title locally, statewide, and hope for a national/world title.
"We have the Little League Softball Sectional Tournament which comprises the five districts that are a part of Section 3 which is (Districts) 10, 11, 12, 18, and 19, and we'll be hosting those at Holbrook (Little League), so, I'm very excited about that, and we have the 10-year-old sections, the same districts, we'll be hosting that at Brick, that's really good, and then we have this first-year 8-year-old state tournament south for 7 and 8-year-olds to play and that'll be over at Toms River Little League, and we're pretty excited about that because that's going to run for a couple of weeks because there's seven of the eleven districts in Sections 3 and 4 are participating," Trenkle said. "They only have a certain amount of pitches these kids can pitch -- like 50 -- per day because they're really young, so we're stretching that tournament out."
There is a certain structure for the 10, 11, and 12-year old's as well as the 13-year-olds who are heading through tournaments this summer looking to pile up wins and move on.
"You have your regular league, you have your regular season, and then you form your tournament team out of that of those players, and then they go into the district tournament -- we have one of them, I would say, hardest district tournaments in the state to run -- we do a pool play round, we take the ten teams and then knock it down to eight and then those eight teams play crossover where teams from Pool A and Pool B play each other and then we eliminate it down to four and then we go into a double-elimination tournament and that winner is the District 18 winner, moves onto the Section Tournament, which is the five districts that play and then we move onto the State Tournament which would be the four sections and that goes into a double-elimination tournament," Trenkle said.
The winner of the State Tournament then advances to play in Bristol, Connecticut which will be a little different this year.
"We'll be going up there this year to play in the new division, we're no longer a part of the Mid-Atlantic Division which has a lot of people upset because we are Mid-Atlantic down here and we're now part of the new Metro Division," Trenkle said.
The Metro Division will be comprised of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island teams.
"Whoever wins that gets to go to the Little League World Series because this is the first year that the Little League World Series has been expanded from 16 teams to 20," Trenkle said. "They're bringing two more American teams and two more International Teams this year."
You can listen to the full conversation with Frank Trenkle on 'Shore Time with Vin and Dave', by going right here.