By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Canyon Country Little League All-Stars are heading to Sectionals after winning District 40.
The team was two outs away from winning the double-elimination district tournament before Northridge walked off after registering three straight hits. Canyon Country had a fire lit under them after the championship was in their grasp but just slipped away.
The two teams would meet again to decide a champion, and in the rematch Canyon Country convincingly won, 11-1.
The team came out hot and loud in the championship game and took an early 3-0 lead in the first inning. The team’s 10-run lead was enough to end the game in a mercy and earned pitcher Jacob “Rocket” Trosper the championship win.
The next stop on the road to the Little League World Series will be in Encino, where the best from Canyon Country, Burbank, Pasadena and San Bernardino districts will play in the Sectional tournament.
Canyon Country has all-stars who have been playing together for over five years. The mix of great chemistry and intelligent players has given manager Rusty Rightmyer an easy job at the helm.
“It’s fun,” said Rightmyer. “I started coaching five of these kids when they were 9-10 years old. That core has gotten better and better each year.”
Rightmyer refers to himself as the doorman for these kids. Numerous parents have commented on the strides their children have taken playing for him. Rightmyer insists he is just opening the door for the kids, showing what to do while they’re the ones doing all of the work.
The manager is also grateful for his coaching staff Jason Stauffer, Jeff Beadnell and Mark Peck, noting the team couldn’t have gotten this far without them.
Rightmyer says this is his best team in years and said Northridge had consistently mercied Canyon Country over the past few seasons.
Canyon Country Little League President Scot Mahotz has put in a ton of work over the years to keep the league afloat and get them back on the winning column.
Now with Canyon Country Little League back on the rise, the All-Stars will have the chance to really shake things up at Sectionals. The winner of the tournament will move on to compete in the State Championships. The winners there move onto the Regional tournament, where the top teams will have the chance to head to the Little League World Series.
Rightmyer thinks his team is great all around, starting with his pitching. The rotation of Trosper, Brody “Kid Vicious” Bayless, Gregory “G-Force” Michelin and “Z-Train” Zane Stauffer has been vital to the success of the team.
Meanwhile at the plate, big hitters like William “Hammer” Peck, Isaac Arellano and Austin “The Beast” Daszek will be relied on to spark the Canyon Country side. The Beast is also the team’s shortstop, who can make plays all over the infield, according to Rightmyer.
Rightmyer says his group of kids is special and holds each other accountable. The manager shared a story of one of his players getting in trouble at school. Teammates then held him accountable and peer pressured him out of being part of the wrong crowd, according to the head coach.
“When someone’s hanging out with the wrong crowd, they’ll let them know,” said Rightmyer. “They’re athletes who stick together. They look after one another. These kids are going to go far in life.”
The manager also believes the bulk of his players will all make immediate impacts on their high school teams next season as freshmen.
For now, the team will focus on their next task at Sectionals. Rightmyer wants to see his team pick up where they left off as the competition is sure to get stiffer.
“I’m hoping they continue where they left off,” said Rightmyer. “I really think if we have solid pitching and solid defense… There won’t be any more 15-run games and now every run counts. I’ve got a very disciplined team and a great coaching staff. I think we can win a lot of 3-2 games.”
The Canyon Country All-Stars will play the winners of District 16 in their sectional tournament opener. The two teams are scheduled to take the field at Encino Little League on Friday at 5 p.m.