Meridian’s All-Star team in the age 12 division will represent the Pacific Northwest at the Cal Ripken World Series in Maryland next month. The team’s regional championship win over southern Washington last week rounded off a season record of 32-4. From left, top row: coach BJ Mills, Ryan Franklin, Braden Guerrero, Gabe Hughes, Briggs Ranstrom, Seth Jones, Braxton Mills, Tristan Ray, coach Ryan Cantrill, head coach Juan Vega; bottom row: bat boy Parker Leaf, Hayden Cantrill, Noah Kraft, Isaiah Vega, Quinn McGuire, Mason Leavitt.

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Twelve of Meridian’s youth baseball players are headed to Aberdeen, Maryland, next week to compete in the Cal Ripken World Series.

Some of the teammates, ages 12 and 13, have played together for the last four years, sweeping state championships each year. They defeated a southern Washington team 7-5 in the regional tournament Saturday, boosting them to the world stage with 17 other teams from around the world.

“The first day of practice we just said, this is our goal, we want to go to the world series,” assistant coach Ryan Cantrill said. “And they’ve stayed focused, practicing almost every night.”

This is the fifth team from the Meridian Youth Baseball and Softball program to compete in the world series. Last year, Meridian’s 12U (age 12) and 10U teams competed. The 10U team advanced to the quarterfinals, winning two games and losing three. The 12U team put up a tough fight but left the tournament with a 0-4 record.

Cantrill hopes things go a bit differently this time around.

“We want to go and win some games,” he said. “You can expect we’re going to see some world-class competition.”

Win or lose, the team is guaranteed at least four games at the tournament. And, win or lose, the players have already made their mark.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the kids, that’s for sure,” Cantrill said. “They’ve been thinking about this moment for the last three to four years.”

When the players finally secured their spot at the world series, their reactions made Cantrill chuckle.

“They’re pretty funny,” he said. “We finally won it, and they had to go look up Maryland on a map, like, ‘Oh, it’s all the way over there!’”

The boys are excited to get their new uniforms, cleats and Under Armour, all covered by the tournament. Plus, Cantrill said, retired baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. hangs out at the tournament, shaking hands and getting pictures with the players.

While the players’ expenses are covered, parents have to fund their own plane tickets and hotel rooms. They’re trying to raise $25,000 on Gofundme.com.

Most of the team parents have been together for the last four years, and they’ve become like family, said Stacy Ray, mom to pitcher, outfielder and second baseman Tristan Ray.

“(The boys) have worked so hard and given it their all, and to see their dreams come true, it’s just been an amazing experience,” she said.

Meridian’s 13U Babe Ruth team also has a chance to go to the Babe Ruth World Series, the tournament for older teams. The team is competing this week in the Pacific Northwest regional tournament in Helena, Montana.

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