Bellingham All-Stars 11U baseball player Lukas DeLisle has a good way to describe how skilled his team is.
"There is no one on the team that any of us are going to say, 'Ahh man, he's going to get out,' DeLisle said during a phone interview. "We are a really talented team, and we are going to hit the ball and be aggressive."
It's that aggressive approach at the plate - coupled with an outstanding five-player pitching rotation - that has earned Bellingham's 11-year-old all-stars a spot in the Cal Ripken Regional Tournament Thursday through Saturday, July 26-28, in Meridian, Idaho.
Coached by Chris DeLisle, Lukas' dad, the Bellingham All-Stars roster consists of Lukas, James Marsh, Kyle Payne, Trevor Seaholm, Ethan Paxton, Mitchell Sage, Dawson Logan, Michael Mindnich, Josh Dentel, Ethan Brown, Mel Ketteridge and Spencer Lloyd.
"I have 12 boys, and one through 12 it's solid," Chris said during a phone interview. "It's the best team I have ever worked with. We've put it together at the right time and have come up big in big tournaments."
The Bellingham All-Star 11U team was formed after the conclusion of the Cal Ripken League's regular season. Tryouts were held, and Chris soon realized how talented of a group he'd get the chance to work with.
While hitting has helped the all-stars reach regionals, DeLisle said the number of young, talented arms on Bellingham's roster is something he's never seen before.
"We have five kids you could throw out there and expect the same result from each one," Chris said. "For an 11-year-old age group, that's unheard of. A lot of teams have a couple kids, but we literally have five."
Stats back up Chris' words.
In 49 innings pitched Marsh has an ERA of 1.45 with 64 strikeouts, in 47 innings Lukas has an ERA of 2.43 with 47 strikeouts, in 40 innings Payne has an ERA of 2.53 with 37 strikeouts, in 40 innings Seaholm has an ERA of 2.55 with 48 strikeouts and in 35 innings Paxton has an ERA of 2.86 with 43 strikeouts.
It's safe to say, Chris doesn't have to deal with tired arms too often.
"I know we're good at hitting," said Sage, who leads the team in RBI with 34, in a phone interview. "Our pitching is really strong, and our defense is pretty solid."
Chris said it's important to have a strong catcher who'll prevent passed balls, given the fact nearly half of Bellingham's roster can pitch.
Lukas takes care of the catching duties, and he's as important with his bat as he is with his defense. He leads the team with a .485 batting average.
"(Catching) is really fun, because you're not just catching fastballs, "Lukas said. "You get to catch some breaking balls, too. You get a lot of playing time, because you get to be in every pitch."
In order to reach regionals - the culminating event of the Bellingham All-Stars season-Bellingham had to qualify at the North Washington Cal Ripken State Tournament in early July in Moses Lake.
"We scored 11 runs in all seven games we played," Chris said. "Everyone contributed, one through 12. We did it with the bat."
Bellingham beat Ellensburg 11-1 in the championship game and, although Chris said his whole club played a hand in the tournament win, he said Sage's performance was something to remember.
"I was seeing the ball really well in that tournament," said Sage, who plays centerfield. "I just put the ball on the bat. I fouled a couple balls off to keep the pitch count high."
Chris didn't have specific stats on Sage's tournament, but he said his young outfielder "literally carried the team with his bat and basically ignited the whole team to do better."
"(Sage) was phenomenal," Lukas said. "He didn't drop any balls or have any errors. He hit amazing drives, and he even got a home run."
Chris wasn't the only person who thought his club had the chance to advance far in tournament play when the all-star team was assembled.
"I knew we were going to be a good team," Lukas said. "Everyone on the team knows the game of baseball."
Now that the Bellingham All-Stars have reached regionals, Lukas, Sage and the rest of the club are looking forward to the challenge of facing teams from Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, British Columbia and Alberta.
What would it mean to Bellingham if it repeats its state performance and wins regionals?
"That would be the best thing in my life," Lukas said. "I would never forget it."
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.