by Steve Mims
The Springfield Drifters are honored to host Opening Ceremonies for the 9U and 11U Pacific Northwest Cal Ripken Regional Championships at Hamlin Field on Wednesday, July 19.
Willamette Valley Babe Ruth will be hosting about 300 of the best young baseball players in the Northwest when the two regionals are held concurrently from July 20-22 at Ted Norman Memorial Baseball Complex in Eugene.
Opening Ceremonies kick off the night before the games begin when the Drifters welcome all the players and coaches to Hamlin for a barbecue beginning at 4:30 p.m. At 6:00, all 20 teams will parade onto the field and line up before the Drifters host Walla Walla at 6:35 p.m.
After a couple of lucky players are invited to throw out a first pitch for the game, all teams have been provided tickets to spend the evening at the beautiful ballpark to see Springfield face off against the Sweets.
The Drifters are proud to be one of the lead sponsors for the regionals that are expected to bring up to 1,000 visitors to the area.
Ten teams have qualified for each of the two tournaments that will be held on four fields at the Norman complex. The winner of each tournament earns a spot in the 2024 Cal Ripken World Series.
As host, Willamette Valley automatically qualified a team into each tournament along with teams from the Southern Oregon and Northern Oregon regions. There will also be teams from Washington, Idaho, and Montana in both brackets.
The tournament will feature pool play on July 20 and July 21 with the 10 teams being split into two five-team brackets. Each team will play two games on both of those days with staggered starts at 9 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:15 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
The top four teams advance to the semifinals at 10:00 on July 22 followed by the title game at 1:00.
“You could be looking at some future major league All-Stars perhaps, who knows,” tournament director Jennifer Hartley said. “Who knows what players you will be looking at. The Justin Herberts of the world played All-Stars.”
Tournament passes are available while daily tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, and free for those 5 and under.