MILROY - Talk about being on a roll.
The Mifflin County Babe Ruth League has won 19 District Seven titles in a row dating back to 2001.
In that time, Mifflin County has a record of 159-47, has 18 finishes in the Pennsylvania final four, made the state finals 11 times, won eight state championships, had two Mid-Atlantic Regional runners-up, won two regional titles and made two World Series appearances, with both team finishing in the top 10 in the country.
Mifflin County will try to add to that streak when the post-season opens today at Armagh Memorial Field.
The 14-year-olds will play at 4:30 p.m. against Upper Adams North and the 15-year-olds at 7:30 p.m. against Gettysburg. In the other game Saturday, Gettysburg plays Perry County in a 14-year-old game. Both tournaments are double elimination.
The District Seven 13-year-old tournament starts on July 5 in Gettysburg.
There are approximately 50 Babe Ruth leagues throughout the state, but since Babe Ruth started 57 years ago (1952), there have been approximately 200 leagues that have come and gone in the commonwealth, from Meadville to Tyrone to Hyde Park in Scranton.
But very few have matched the Mifflin County run from 2001 to 2007.
From 1966 to 1970, Levittown won five state titles and sent three teams to a World Series. State College has put 14 teams in the state finals from 1998 to 2007, has won six state titles and sent two teams to the World Series. Other leagues with good runs include Drexel Hill (Delaware County) from 1998 to 2001, with five state titles, and Phoenixville, 1977 to 1979, which won four state championships.
Middletown Township (Bucks County) went to two straight World Series in 1993 and 1994. West End (Williamsport) won two state titles in 2005 and 2006 and had a national runner-up at a World Series in 2006.
The Mifflin County All-Stars also are on the verge of two milestone marks. Mifflin County needs just five wins to get to the 500 mark and needs one home run to have a hundred four baggers. Mifflin County enters the 2008 season 495-219 in 54 years of competition.
Last year as 13-year-olds, Mifflin County pulled out a heart stopping state final against Broomall-Newtown, coming from behind to score four runs in the top of the seventh for a 4-2 win.
Mifflin County then advanced to the Mid-Atlantic Regional and went 2-2, finishing in a tie for fifth place. Last year's team scored 126 runs, the second highest total for a Mifflin County team, and had 106 hits, 10th best.
Thirteen of those players return with a new coaching staff. veteran manager Fred Zook of Yeagertown is at the helm.
"The expectations for this team are extremely high," Zook said. "We can't take anything for granted. So far, I haven't seen any problems. The attitude of the players has been good. Most of them have played together before. I hope we have fun and having fun means winning."
Zook is no stranger to the post-season. He has won four state titles, 1981 and 1987 (14-15 year olds); 2003 (14 year olds); and 2007 (15-year-olds). In 2004, he guided the Mifflin County 15s to a World Series appearance in Longview, Wash.
The Yeagertown skipper has coached Mifflin County All-Star teams to eight district titles and has eight final four appearances, including state runners up in 1982 (13) and 1983 (14-15).
Zook's record in All-Star play is 75-27 and his overall record is 393-238.
Making the team are the Five W's from league champion Lewistown West: twins Cole and Mitch Welham, Chris and Ted Wilson, and Hunter Walker. Walker is a first-year All-Star.
Reedsville placed three players on the team, Jeremy Koller, Alex Hughes and Levi North. Belleville has two players on the 2008 squad, Dalton Long and Josh Rosefsky. Milroy also has two players on the team, Tanner Kibe and Derek Kuppel. Kuppel is a first-time All-Star.
Three teams have one player each: Yeagertown, Zane McNitt; Belltown, Brendon Fultz; and Strodes Mills, Tyson Searer.
Helping Zook will be Butch Bender of Belltown and Mike Milliken of Yeagertown.
The winner of the District Seven tournament will advance to the state tournament in Williamsport.
For the past two years, the Mifflin County 15-year-olds have been close to a state title, but fell each year in the championship game.
As 13-year-olds in 2006, Mifflin County lost to Council Rock Newtown, 9-1, a team that in 2005 went to the Little League World Series. Last summer, Mifflin County lost by the same eight-run margin in the state final to State College, 12-4.
Now as 15-year-olds, Mifflin County is hoping to make it to top of the Babe Ruth world in Pennsylvania.
Last year's team was managed by Reedsville's Scott Reigle. He and his staff (Kevin Reigle and Bob Rosenberry) are back to coach the team this year.
Reigle has a 41-15 All-Star record, including a state and regional championship in 2002 and a trip to Connersville, Ind., in which Mifflin County finished in a tie for fifth in the country.
Reigle has won four district titles for Mifflin County and has four finishes in the Pennsylvania final four. In 1983, he was an assistant coach on the Mifflin County 13-year-old team that won a state title. Overall, he has a record of 247-101.
During his 37 years in the league he has appeared in the most games as an All-Star manager or coach for Mifflin County - 166 - and has the most finishes in the state's final four, 12.
Last year's team came out swinging. It scored 117 runs, had 122 hits and batted .374. The runs and hits were the fourth best by a local team, while the batting average was the second all-time for a team with 200 or more official at bats.
When asked if there was an advantage coaching the same team that he last year, Reigle said, "I think there is a built in advantage as you know what the players can and cannot do. We will go as far as our pitching and defense will take us. I am a firm believer at the 15-year-old level that you have to have those two parts of your game because sooner or later, you are going to run into a strong pitcher."
Belltown's Cody Heane, who was the league's Outstanding Pitcher for the second straight year, has been the ace of the Mifflin County staff for the past two All-Star seasons. He needs just nine strikeouts to break the all-time mark for Mifflin County pitchers and needs just two wins to set the record in that department.
Heane, along with teammates Levi Spigelmyer, Chris Will and Dakota Trutt, were named to the team.
League champion Lewistown West put on A.J. Scheffel, Joseph Knepp and Kirby Moist, who was the league's MVP and won the batting title.
Reedsville also put three players on the All-Star squad: Joseph McElwain, Nathan Walters and Ben Wilt.
Milroy put four players on the team: Ethan Torquato, Cameron Rhoades, Hunter Narehood and Josh Maben. Burnham's Matt Eddy was the other player named to the team. Moist and Narehood are first-time All-Stars.
Three-time All-Stars include Heane, Trutt, Rhoades, Eddy, McElwain, Walters, Knepp and Maben. Wilt and Scheffel are four-time All-Stars. The eight players that are now three-time All-Stars gives Mifflin County 172 in that department.
The winner of the district tournament will advance to the state tournament in State College.