In eight years with the Newport Harbor Baseball Assn., Manager Denny Pender said he has never seen one of its All-Star teams get past the Pony Bronco Southern California Central Region Tournament.
Pender has an under-12 ballclub at the tournament in Placentia on Thursday.
This time, Pender believes Newport Harbor has what it takes to advance out of the six-day tournament to the super region next week in Whittier.
"We're loaded," Pender said. "If we get a few breaks, we'll be able to make it."
Newport Harbor advanced to the region tournament after beating Hedwig A, 10-2, in a section tournament game in Newport Beach on Sunday. Newport Harbor placed second in the tournament, behind Dana Point, which defeated Newport Harbor, 4-2.
Newport Harbor will have a second team in Placentia on Thursday.
Newport Harbor's under-9 team reached the Pony Mustang-9 Southern California Central Region Tournament. Newport Harbor knocked off Garden Grove, 11-5, on Sunday, in a section tournament game in Newport Beach to advance.
Pender said the Bronco team's pitching depth is its greatest strength.
The staff includes twin brothers Luke and Jake Genova, Charlie Wiggs, Kobe Benter, and Pender's son, Cole.
"We've had a good run with them because we have a lot of options to go with," Pender said.
Before the section tournament, Pender said Newport Harbor won the St. Hedwig Tournament in Los Alamitos, giving the team momentum.
Pender said Newport Harbor also placed fifth at a Memorial Day tournament in Irvine.
Pender said Newport Harbor must win three of four games, or win all four to qualify for the super region.
Offensively, Kelly Holgate leads things off. Pender said the left-handed batter is the fastest player on the team and the Genova twins provide the power in the lineup.
Connor Kincaid is the team's shortstop.
Two Newport Harbor teams that did not advance to their respective region tournaments were the under-10 Mustang team and the under-11 Bronco team.
Before section, the under-11 Bronco team placed third in a district tournament in Anaheim and the under-10 team was fourth in a district tournament in Seal Beach.
— From staff reports