The Meridian Youth Baseball All-Stars more than held their own at the 2019 Cal Ripken World Series two years ago, finishing fourth.
The coronavirus pandemic prevented Meridian from making another run at a title last summer.
But it couldn’t be denied this summer.
The World Series begins Aug. 6 in Branson, Missouri, with a champion crowned on Aug. 14.
“The uncertainty of COVID — and even this year, we didn’t know if it would happen — it was stressful,” said Jake Hines, the team’s coach and the president of Meridian Youth Baseball and Softball. “But to their credit, even though they lost a year of baseball, they’ve stayed really, really focused on it and worked tremendously hard.”
Meridian has dominated opponents for years. It went 48-5 this summer, boosting its record to 145-28 the past four years.
It won six straight games earlier this month to claim its fourth consecutive state championship. It then won another six straight games at the regional tournament.
Meridian allowed a combined nine runs in those 12 games. And it outscor0ed opponents from Washington, Oregon and Montana 67-4 at the regional tournament, invoking the mercy rule in four of six games.
“They know how to win,” Hines said. “That’s an important thing. But they are also just lighthearted. They know how to stay light and not let the moment get too big.”
No Idaho team has ever won a Cal Ripken World Series title. And Meridian will have to navigate a deep field of 20 U.S teams and five international teams this summer.
Meridian’s five-team group features opponents from Missouri, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Mississippi. The top two teams in group play advance to the championship bracket.
Stadium, an over-the-air and online broadcast network, will carry two of Meridian’s games. It will broadcast the opener at 10 a.m. Mountain time on Aug. 6, as well as its final group game at 6 p.m. Aug. 10.
The team is raising $10,000 to fund its trip via a GoFundMe page.