Sunnybrae 12-year-old All-Star Team. From Left to Right. Bobby Lipsett III, Nick Conti, Joey Riley. (Middle) Joey Maglione, Anthony O’Rourke, Joaquin Gutierrez, Frankie Mazzella, Jonathan Posivak. (Back) Max Pelzer, Matt Morris, Josh Klena, Connor Drury, AJ Zuccarello. (Coaches) Rob Riley, Tom Klena, Frank Mazzella, Anthony Zuccarello.
Despite being delayed by over a month and no chance to make it to the Little League world series, because Coronavirus has canceled it, the all-stars from HTRBA, Sunnybrae and Nottingham little leagues are all eager for this years District 12 tournament.
The eight-team double-elimination tournament is scheduled to get underway on Friday with two games at Sunnybrae LL and two at Nottingham LL.
David Edwards the Little League Administrator who is charge of putting the tournament together said his priority for the tournament was “for the kids to go out have fun, compete with pride and may the best team advance on to the sectionals.
Little League and each team have done a lot of safety precautions not only for their shortened season but also for this tournament.
“Each league has done a great job to meet all the requirements and expectations as far safety is concerned with temperature checks, sanitation stations throughout the fields, mask rules and social distancing for the sites” added Edwards.
Other area teams include West Windsor, Robbinsville, Bordertown, East Windsor, and Lawrence.
Bordentown Little League took the 2019 tournament title in a battle against Sunnybrae.
The Sunnybrae 12’s come into the tournament as the 10 and 11-year-old district champs and are looking at adding this year’s 12-year-old tournament to their ranks.
Sunnybrae’s tournament begins at 8:15 p.m. on Friday against Lawrence at Sunnybrae.
Sunnybrae Manager Anthony Zuccarello feels his team is ready.
“These guys are a family. They have been playing together since tee-ball, they have come together and are friends on and off the field. That shows in there play. They are able to pick each other up and be there for each other, which is important on and off the field” added Zuccarrello.
When it comes to championship experience in the District 12 tournament, Nottingham Little League get the edge.
They hold the record with 27 District 12 titles, had a storied run to the Little League World Series in 2002 and won 5 titles in a row from 2010 from 2015. Now they are looking to get back on top.
“I expect them to go out and give alot of heart, hustle and play the game the right way. If they give us 100 percent on a game in-game out basis were going to be successful”, said Nottingham Manager John Cimino
But it is the fact that they gel so well together to play as a team that Cimino believes is the real strength behind Nottingham. “I think they all individually have there strengths, as far as hitting, fielding and pitching, but it is when they come together as one team they strengthen and compliment each other. They are a joy to coach, and be around, I love every minute of it.”
HTRBA last district title was in 2017 and they are a hungry group of kids ready to win it again.
“We have some real good power hitting and have some good speed. We are looking put the ball in play. Defensively we are also very strong and should be able to keep the runs down. We just have to minimize the walks on the mound” said HTRBA Manager Joe Formica.
HTRBA’s tournament begins against Nottingham at 8:15 p.m. on Friday.