Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau’s Gastineau Channel Little League Major division, 10-12 year old All-Stars, the Alaska District 2 champions after sweeping Ketchikan in three straight games on Miller Field, will be facing District 1 champion Knik Little League, from Eagle River, in a best-of-five series for the State Championship at Anchorage’s O’Malley Fields beginning Friday.
“We don’t know much about Knik,” Juneau coach Jaysen Katasse said. “We obviously looked on social media and saw some pictures. We followed them through their bracket a little bit. The other coaches were kind of filling us in but we don’t know much. I know they 10-run ruled the last team they played so it looks like a tough group of kids.”
Coaches Katasse and Jason McAdoo said that the Juneau GCLL Major All-Stars used a lot of repetition to prepare for state. Coach Jacob Dutton was credited for implementing an inter-squad scrimmage routine in the last week and coach Jake Carte put together a band of other little league boys to prepare before the District 2 series against Ketchikan.
“Collectively as coaches we tried to pull it all together,” Katasse said. “We tried to come up with a game plan every day to keep them hungry and keep them motivated. The kids have a lot of heart. They practice hard and play hard. We are a fast team. Defensively, I really like our defense. I told our kids at the beginning of the season that every one of them can play any position, whether it is shortstop, pitcher, left field, right field, center field… and they all play their role when called upon. They really step up and give it their all and it shows. We make the practices harder for them so the games come easier, and that is really starting to show.”
This team does have experience traveling as a team for competition. Two years ago the core group traveled to Ketchikan and won the District 2 Minors title.
“It is what makes them special,” Katasse said. “These guys have played together already. They have gone through the ups and the downs of tournament play so they kind of have a feel about who is going to do what. Obviously we have some new additions to the team. The kids are ballers. Everyone just steps right in and knows what their job is. It makes it a lot easier to coach these guys.”
The team does have a travel hitch, arriving roughly two hours before the 6:30 p.m. game time on Friday and needing to check into a hotel, and get food and beverages. Game’s two and three are 1 p.m. contests on Saturday and Sunday. If necessary games are scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday.
Since 1960, 23 Juneau GCLL Major All-Star teams have participated in the state title game with nine being crowned champions.
The state series winner advances to the Regional Tournament in San Bernardino, California August 8-14 to earn a spot in the World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania August 19-29
“The kids are super excited,” Katasse said. “For some of these guys it could be a once in a lifetime deal. I told them all to pack like we are going to be gone for a couple of weeks which means we will go as far as they want to go. They keep working hard and playing like they did last week I see nothing but great things for these kids.”
A short bio of the GCLL Major All-Stars follow:
#0 Noah Lewis, hobbies - sports and fishing, favorite MLB player - Javier Báez, favorite food - pizza.
“What I am looking to do up in Anchorage is win,” Lewis said.
#1 Keaton Belcourt, hobbies - fishing and sports, favorite MLB player - Mookie Betts, favorite food - hamburgers.
“What I am looking to do up there in Anchorage is kick some butt,” Belcourt said.
#2 Parker Katasse, hobbies - snowboarding and sports, favorite MLB player - Mookie Betts, favorite food - pizza.
“What I am looking forward to in Anchorage is just spending time with my roommates,” Katasse said.
#3 Micah Nelson, hobbies - fishing and playing sports, favorite MLB player - Mookie Betts, favorite food - spaghetti.
“The most important thing I am looking forward to in Anchorage is playing baseball,” Nelson said.
#4 Vinny Nizich, hobbies - sports, favorite MLB player - Shohei Ohtani and Mookie Betts, favorite food - pizza.
“I am excited about this trip because we get to go up there and just play baseball,” Nizich said.
#7 Hunter Carte, hobbies - hunting, fishing and sports, favorite MLB player - Shohei Ohtani, favorite food - spaghetti.
“What I am excited about is to show Anchorage who is boss,” Carte said.
#8 Brenner Harralson, hobbies - sports and snowboarding, favorite MLB player - Kyle Seager , favorite food - chicken wraps.
“What I am looking to do up in Anchorage is win and hopefully go to San Bernardino,” Harralson said.
#11 Andrew Sanders, hobbies - skiing, swimming, fishing and baseball, favorite MLB player - Shohei Ohtani, favorite food - all food.
“What I am excited to do is to go up there and beat Knik,” Sanders said.
#12 KB Lim, hobbies - playing sports, favorite MLB player - Kris Bryant , favorite food - strawberries.
“I am most excited about just playing baseball,” Lim said.
#15 Isaac Kirsch, hobbies - fishing, snowboarding and baseball, favorite MLB player - Aaron Judge , favorite food - pizza.
“What I am looking to do in Anchorage is just traveling and having fun and doing something that I love to do,” Kirsch said.
#16 Ryker Nelson, hobbies - hunting, fishing and sports, favorite MLB player - Javier Báez, favorite food - pizza.
“I am looking forward to moving on,” Nelson said.
#21 Drew Cadigan-McAdoo, hobbies - baseball and hockey, favorite MLB player - Mitch Haniger, favorite food - lasagna.
“I am most excited to try and go to regionals and hanging out with the boys,” Cadigan-McAdoo said.
#23 Henry Maier, hobbies - hunting, fishing, skiing and baseball, favorite MLB player - Shohei Ohtani, favorite food - mac and cheese.
“What I am most excited about is playing baseball,” Maier said.