DRUMS - Finally after three weeks of practice and scrimmages, the Mifflin County Babe Ruth 15-year-olds All-Stars will be able to defend their 14-year-old state title.
Mifflin County advanced to the state torunament as Perry County forfeited two games in the District 7 tournament.
Mifflin County opens play against the District 8 champion, West End of Williamsport.
Last year, West End beat Mifflin County, 4-3, in nine innings. Both teams made the final four.
Other games, Mifflin County will play in pool play are Franklin Township (District 4, Lehighton) at 11 a.m. on Friday; Broomall-Newtown, District 1, at 11 a.m. on Saturday and on Sunday it takes on Valley, the host team, at 5 p.m.
Other teams in the state tournament are Tri-Township (Bucks County) District 3 and District 2, ChiChester.
The final four starts on Monday, July 21 and the state final is on Tuesday, July 22.
Last year, Mifflin County beat Valley in the state finals, 12-2.
Fred Zook is the manager of the 15-year-old team. Zook has a 98-37 All-Star record and needs just two wins to become the first Mifflin County manager to reach 100 wins in All-Star competition.
Zook's overall record is 508-319. He has now guided Mifflin County to 13 district titles and has had 11 teams finish in Pennsylvania Final Four. Both are tops for Mifflin County managers.
Four times, Zook has helped Mifflin County win state titles, 1981, 14-15-year-olds; 1987, 14-15-year-olds; 2003, 14-year-olds and 2007, 15-year-olds.
He has had two teams reach the final game in the Mid-Atlantic Regionals. In 2003, the Mifflin County 14-year-olds finished second and in 2004 it won the regional title and went to the World Series in Longview, Wa., where Mifflfin County went 2-2 and tied for seventh-place in the nation.
"I think we are ready to go," Zook said, "It's been a long three weeks, but we plan to show up and put nine players on the field. I know we loss to West End last year and it will be a tough game. But, we just want to play."
The winner of the state tournanent will advance to the Mid-Atlantic Rregionals in Niskayuna, New York.