Although they’ve been playing since early March, this Saturday is that magical opening day of the season for the Little League All Stars from Ahwatukee Foothills, Tempe and Chandler.
June 26 is when the District 13 Little League All Star tournament season begins for seven teams in three age divisions at the Tempe Sports Complex, and most players are looking beyond that date.
It could be the start of a long summer, especially for the 12-year-olds playing in the Majors division.
Over the past nine seasons, District 13 has had three teams achieve the ultimate goal of reaching the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
The Chandler National team made the trip in 2003 and 2007 while an Ahwatukee Foothills team, nicknamed the Dawgs, stoked local pride to a feverish pitch in 2006 when they won two games at Willamsport.
It all begins Saturday evening and continues through July 10 when, after a total of 66 games in three divisions, there will be new district champions.
While the Minors, or 9- and 10-year-olds, and the 10- and 11-year-old division can qualify for state and sectional tournament championships, only the older Majors players will have an opportunity to advance to the Western Division and a trip to the World Series.
An even older Little League All Star division of 13-year-olds called the Juniors from Tempe, Chandler and Ahwatukee, will also be playing in a District 13 tournament beginning July 6 on the practice fields at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
The Ahwatukee team has drawn a first-round bye and will open on Wednesday, July 7 at Diablo.
The first games for Ahwatukee teams at the Tempe Sports Complex will be at 7:15 Saturday night. The Majors are scheduled to face Tempe Guadalupe while the Minors go against Chandler National North.
All other games through the tournament will be played at 5:15 or 8 p.m.
The tournament will take a break during the Fourth of July weekend from Saturday, July 3, through Monday, July 5, and resume on Tuesday, July 6.
Games are at the Tempe Sports Complex.