Wednesday afternoon the Danvers National and Danvers American Little League Williamsport all-star teams will travel roughly 25 miles north to play each other in their opening game in the District 15 tournament.
The trip to Amesbury isn’t ideal for the two Danvers entries, but the respective coaches care more about how their teams play than where the venue is located.
Getting off to a good start is important in pool play, where six teams battle through a round-robin format with the top two teams advancing to the elimination round. The Danvers teams know each other well, and they also know they’ll have to earn a win in their first game Wednesday (5:30 p.m.).
“They’re a very athletic team,” Danvers American manager Scott Palladino said about the Nats. “They’re well rounded, they have speed, they have pitching. They’re a good, well-rounded team.”
The Danvers National players and coaches share a similar feeling about their neighbors.
“We played cross-town games so we’re real familiar with them. They all go to school together. It’s a good friendly rivalry. Of course, you want to beat the cross-town club,” Danvers National manager Mike Mansfield said. “They have good pitchers, hard throwers and we’re expecting some big bats in their lineup that will really swing the bat well. We’re going to definitely have a good test right out of the chute.”
Danvers National and Danvers American will be battling with Hamilton-Wenham, Topsfield, Middleton and Boxford in their pool.
It’s difficult to determine favorites in such a tournament, but the Danvers entries are usually in the thick of the title chase and this year shouldn’t be any different.
The Nats captured the Jimmy Fund title last year as 11-year-olds and they return three players from last year’s Williamsport team.