Steamboat's select Little League batters host championships

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— Steamboat's Little League sluggers are hoping the diamonds at Emerald Park will help produce their golden tickets to state.

Play starts Friday afternoon for three Steamboat Springs all-star teams competing in the Little League District 3 Championships. The games will run through Saturday and Sunday at Emerald Park (with some Saturday morning games scheduled at Strawberry Park Elementary School) and conclude with championship games either Monday or Tuesday, depending on team losses.

The Steamboat teams hope to minimize those losses, since a district championship means a trip to the state tournament July 20 to 22, where they will meet the winners of Colorado's other three Little League districts. Little League Baseball is the non-profit organization that Steamboat's teams participate in, hoping for the ultimate trip to the World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

But first, U-11 Coach Stace Toye's team has to worry about its main district competition from Summit County.

"We've got a good chance of winning - we beat them last year," Toye said of the team's 8-7, come-from-behind victory in 2006 to qualify for state. The U-11 team opens play at 2 p.m. Friday at Emerald Yellow against Grand County.

Another district champion team from last year, now Steamboat's U-12 squad, will face teams from Leadville, Craig, Summit and Grand counties. They open tournament play at 2 p.m. Friday at Emerald Green against Skyline (Leadville).

A U-10 division rounds out the tournament, with Steamboat's youngest participating squad kicking off play at 5 p.m., Friday at Emerald Green versus Craig.

"It's going to be awesome," Toye said of the "rare opportunity" to host the double-elimination, kid-pitch tournament for all three age divisions.

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