Pounding rain and slashing winds have thumped Southcentral Alaska of late, but three baseball teams and one softball team from the region are still going to be the boys and girls of summer this week.
Those clubs -- and they range from squads of pre-teens to teenagers to young adults -- are all set to play in significant tournaments in the Lower 48, where warmer weather surely awaits.
The Alaska Baseball League champion Peninsula Oilers of Kenai open play tonight in the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., where the organization three times has been crowned the king of amateur summer baseball -- in 1994, 1993 and 1977.
The Oilers, buoyed by the ABL Player of the Year in shortstop Mike Miller, the circuit's Silver Slugger in Patrick Wisdom and a deep, stingy pitching staff, open the 32-team, double-elimination tournament at 7:30 p.m. ADT against the Northwest (Wa.) Honkers of the Pacific International League.
Thursday, Dimond Post 21, which last week won the state tournament with a remarkable run of come-from-behind victories in the loser's bracket, opens play at the American Legion Northwest Regional in Billings, Mont.
Dimond plays in the tournament opener against Hawaii at 7:30 a.m. ADT. The club is making its second straight regional appearance and no doubt hoping to improve on last August, when it dispatched in two blowouts in Spokane, Wash. -- a team from Boise, Idaho, mashed Dimond 18-3 and Wausau, Wash., beat Dimond 13-3.
Thursday also brings the tournament opener in the Little League Junior Softball Western Regional in Marana, Ariz., for the state champions from Nunaka Valley Little League.
Nunaka Valley opens pool play in the nine-team tournament with a game against Utah at 4 p.m. ADT. Two years ago, the all-star softball team from Nunaka Valley won the Little League Western Regional and advanced to the Little League World Series in Portland, Ore., becoming the first team of 11- and 12-year-old Alaskans to advance to the final tournament of the season.
Friday features the tournament opener for the Abbott-O-Rabbit Little League team of 11- and 12-year-olds -- that club is coming off a three-game sweep of the Gastineau Channel All-Stars in the best-of-5 state championship last weekend in Juneau.
Abbott-O-Rabbit plays Washington at 8:30 a.m. ADT in the opening game at the Northwest Regional in San Bernardino, Calif.