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ON THE ROAD

Scappoose Juniors scramble to raise funds and prepare for a trip to Western Regionals
by: John Brewington Scappoose Little League Juniors Manager Jeff Hering

Little League Juniors Manager Jeff Hering might have been pulling his hair out this past week, but for him it wasn't really much of an option.

Hering's team won the Oregon State Little League Juniors championship last Thursday and had just over a week to make arrangements for their trip to Irvine, Calif., for Western Regionals, which start Tuesday.

In addition to team practices, Hering had the added responsibility of booking flights and rooms, arranging meals and transportation, plus holding fundraisers to help pay for it all.

Still, it's a trip the kids, coaches, and their parents are looking forward to. 'Everybody is excited and everybody is extremely tired-staying up late fundraising, practicing and taking care of the logistics has been tiring and stressful,' Hering said.

The team was getting a small stipend from the Little League national organization, and the Scappoose Little League has a reserve fund that provides some help. Still a lot of money was needed and the team was out hitting the countryside pleading for donations. They also held fundraisers, including a car wash and barbecue on Wednesday night. 'We're tired, but our parents have been absolutely phenomenal,' Hering noted.

He said the team was flying down Sunday morning. That would include 10 players, two coaches (Hering and Leonel Sandoval), and three or four families, about 25 people in all. The team got a price break from Alaska Airlines and the players are only taking carry-on luggage to avoid bag-checking charges. One coach, Jeff Patton, doesn't like to fly so he was driving the baseball gear down and taking along Hering's wife and daughter.

All 12 teams in the tournament have to stay at the Doubletree Hilton. They get a rate of $125 per night, plus tax. It's a break from their regular rates. Parents can book rooms from $149. Scappoose will put five players per room.

'It's a pretty nice resort, but it's going to be a week-long slumber party,' Hering said. 'Someone will have to sleep on an air mattress.'

And then there are meals. The host team is providing one meal a day, but other than that teams are on their own. The hotel could prove expensive so the team will seek some alternatives.

The team will be a little shorthanded for the tournament. They are taking just 10 players. Another player, Anthony Bernal, was in the Dominican Republic this week playing in an international tournament.

Hering is confident in his crew. He notes that all of his players can pitch if need be. He said he's looked up all the teams on their website and expects a good tournament.

'Everybody is the same, we're all playing under Little League rules. California has a whole lot more boys, but I still like our odds. We've got great kids and a great team,' Hering added. 'We're all excited, but we've been having great practices.'

The team will have some strict rules to keep them focused, but they will also have a good time. The team has three games in a row-Nevada, Montana, Washington-and then they have a day off Friday, Aug. 5. The hotel is just 15 minutes from Disneyland, so that could be an option.

The tournament is divided into two pools of six teams each. Each team plays five games. The top two teams advance to a seeded semifinal game on Aug. 8, and the winners play for the championship on Aug. 9.

Alaska Airlines is allowing them to keep open-ended tickets so if they don't make the championship round, they can come home on Monday. If they do make the championship, they will fly back on Wednesday.

Enthusiasm is running high.

Western Regional Tournament

Scappoose Schedule:

Tues., Aug. 2 Henderson, Nev. 3:30 p.m.

Wed., Aug. 3 Billings, Mont. Noon

Thur., Aug. 4 Naches, Wash. 3:30 p.m.

Sat., Aug. 6 N. California 3:30 p.m.

Sun., Aug. 7 S. California 7 p.m.

Mon., Aug. 8 Semifinals 3:30 p.m., 7 p.m.

Tues., Aug. 9 Championship 6 p.m.