WESLACO — It was to the sound of loud cheers at Panther Field that the Weslaco Little League Junior Division baseball team downed Alice, 12-11, in the seventh and final inning of their first sectional game on Thursday.
Now having game one under its belt, the team has high expectations of entering the Little League World Series. Still, the ambition would not exist if it wasn’t for the group’s dedication.
For five days a week, since June 6, the group has trained in the sweltering Valley heat under the guidance of coach Arnold Cavazos. Cavazos, who has been coaching the team for close to 18 years, had a short amount of time to get the players — 13 and 14 year olds — into shape since the Valley tournament was set to start within a couple of weeks of their first day.
However, the challenge was one Cavazos and his team welcomed.
“From the beginning, this team has been very confident, and have worked really hard,” Cavazos said. “We’ve been training every day a week … two to three hours per day in hopes of getting to where we are at, and beyond.”
At the commencement of the local tournament, which usually lasts four to five days, the team found itself filled with anxiety as the games were often postponed due to weather conditions. What was meant to be a quick week of competition dragged on into several days of waiting and hoping that the forecast would clear.
In the conclusion, the group made its way to sectionals with a record 3-1 record.
“We lost our first game to Edinburg, but we then beat Los Fresnos, and went on to beat Edinburg twice in a sort of revenge attack,” Cavazos said. “So walking away with the win was awesome. It felt great.”
According to Cavazos, the team has yet to finish the sectional competition. Over the course of the weekend, Weslaco will face teams from Corpus Christi and Laredo to determine which will be moving on to the state contest.
Should the team overcome the leagues in San Antonio, Dallas and El Paso, then Cavazos and his group will head to a regional tourney in which they will compete against teams from Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana before having a shot at the Little League World Series. Although it looks like an uphill battle, Cavazos has faith that the team will emerge as the champions.
“These are a great bunch of boys,” Cavazos said. “They are filled with commitment and I am grateful to have a team that has had such dedication to what they are doing, and to what they are trying to achieve.”