For the first time in league history, Federal Way National Little League will be represented by a baseball seniors team at a regional tournament representing the state of Washington.
The seniors division took down Northwest Seattle Little League, 6-0, in the championship at Hartman Park in Redmond. The win meant that FWNLL will now play at the West regional Tournament in Oakland.
The kids on the seniors team are ages 13-16, and most of these kids have played together since they were 12 years old with kids from Federal Way High School, Decatur and Thomas Jefferson. Making the regional tournament accomplishes something this group of kids has been on a quest for since they made the state championship that year they were 12 years old.
“This group of kids when they were 12 went to the state championship undefeated and lost twice. They’ve always been really good ballplayers,” Head Coach Craig Guymon said.
Guymon has coached his son all the way though little league and when the opportunity to play seniors last season he took the opportunity.
“My wife said, since we had so much fun with the juniors team last year, let’s reach out to all of the kids who are Trendon’s age and see if they want to come back,” Guymon said.
That team took second place in state last year.
“Other kids on the team last year reached out to their friends for the final year. That’s how we got to the team we are now. We’re a pretty solid team,” Guymon said.
Senior baseball competes a lot with summer select baseball teams over the course of the season.
“When we went to All-Stars, I needed that commitment. Regular season was fine. I didn’t care. But we’re doing this and we needed commitments and they did. I think it went back to when they were 12 and lost at state,” said Guymon.
Coming into the senior division season, Little League Baseball made a new rule that players who wanted to play senior All-Stars didn’t have to play a regular season.
“I had a few kids that only came to two or three games. It benefitted us, I didn’t know what we were going to see at state… Because of the new rule how many teams will put together a nice team,” Guymon said.
Federal Way High School junior Orlando Young headlines the All-Star roster for FWNLL. He has MVP level stuff with the Eagles, but it’s not his play on the field that Guymon is impressed with.
“Orlando has the most positive attitude toward all these kids. He’s so supportive of even kids who don’t play too much. He’s on a whole ‘nother level, and he is just so supportive,” Guymon noted.
“It’s a unique thing to have someone playing at their level and also play at the lower level as well and support the kids playing and get them to love the game of baseball… I really appreciate Orlando.”
To make it to the World Series, FWNLL has to beat Hawaii or the local Oakland team to make that jump. Both of those leagues had teams play in regionals last year, but just because National doesn’t have experience doesn’t mean they’re at a disadvantage.
“We feel like we’ll be competitive, all the boys want to win… I think we have a chance,” Guymon said.
The strength of the team is their ability to play the game of baseball at a high level.
“We’re not so much teaching them the game of baseball. But managing their skills and put them in place where they can be the most successful,” said Guymon.
The excitement was hard to contain for the entire team when the last out in the win was recorded.
“Hunter struck out the last batter and we all we’re like ‘Yes!’ Finally did it,” Guymon said.
Federal Way National opens up the regional tournament against Wyoming on July 21 in Oakland, California. They have to win four games, but have the luxury of the tournament being double elimination. If FWNLL makes it out of regionals, they travel to Easly, South Carolina.