If practice makes perfect, then Lompoc's 15-year-old Babe Ruth baseball team is working hard to achieve perfection.
The players have had a perfect run through the District 6 and Central California Regional playoffs.
This week they've been back on the diamond practicing for their next challenge.
Soon they will packs their bags and head to South Lake Tahoe to see if they can keep their winning streak going at the Babe Ruth Pacific Southwest Regional championship.
The Lompoc 15-year-old Babe Ruth All-Stars, just one week removed from braving the triple digit heat and winning the Central California state title, will begin play on Monday, July 24. A winning run in the double elimination tournament would take the team through July 29.
Gone will be seeing the 15-year-old sluggers sweat and persevere through temperatures that rose to 105 in Reedley, a town located 35 minutes south of Fresno, against opponents that were already used to those heated days. Now, this group of local teens will swing and catch in near 80 degree temperatures — while being surrounded by ski resorts along the Nevada border.
And they’ll encounter hurdles from Murray, Utah, Yuma, Ariz. and Californian talent representing Torrance and Northern California's Tri-Valley.
Lompoc manager Tommy Silva gave his players some time off from the diamond following its run in Fresno County during the week of July 12. But now, practices got back into full swing on Monday — and Silva says this is an even more excited group of baseball players as they can continue their season.
“It was nice to get a break from the hot weather. The kids are excited,” Silva said.
The upcoming trip to Tahoe did come with a price — a money goal that required community support to help send the 15’s to the pristine campgrounds. Silva said small businesses in Lompoc and staunch advocates of Lompoc youth sports all pitched in to help aid the team’s trip to Northern California, making funds one less thing to worry about on Silva’s end.
“As Lompoc has always done, the city has come through,” Silva said. “We’ve been raising money to go to Tahoe. We’ve been grinding there. No days off. We’ve made a good chunk of money. We shouldn’t have any problem reaching our goal.”
Lompoc’s last known state title in Babe Ruth came in 2006, which was the 13-year-old All-Star team accomplishing state glory. Silva and the players are starting to realize how prominent this run is and how this group of 15-year-olds is doing more than just winning baseball games.
“I think it kind of has sunk in. But when they get back out there on the field, they’ll realize how special this run really is,” Silva said. “Once they play one of the out-of-state teams, they’ll realize how big this is.”
Their first test on July 24 will be the tournament host South Lake Tahoe, a program Silva said has a history of winning state championships in Nevada.
“They’ll be no pushover,” Silva said.
The winning team in the Pacific Southwest double elimination tournament will take on all-stars from Oahu, Hawaii — the only team that has a first round bye in the 15-year-old tournament.
Lompoc won’t be the only Central Coast representative aiming for its next regional state title. So will the Orcutt 14-year-old All-Stars, who will head to Surprise, Ariz., for that nine-team field that begins on July 24. Orcutt will face a Northern California team comprising of Belmont-San Mateo talent.
Silva and Lompoc is offering its support of their neighbors to the north.
“We want to wish Orcutt all the best and good luck,” Silva said.
Fundraiser at The Habit
The Lompoc 15’s will hold one more fundraiser at The Habit Burger Grill in Lompoc on Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. to continue to raise funds for the July 24-29 tournament.
The Habit is located on 1413 North H Street right next to Chipotle and Motel Six.