After romping through the District 14 Tournament last week, the McIntire Little League 9 and 10-year-old All-Stars will try to take home a much bigger prize this week.
McIntire will travel to Grundy Thursday for the start of the Virginia Little League State Tournament. Pool play begins on Friday.
The McIntire team went undefeated in the district tournament last week and won handily in each game, but the team knows this week's competition will be much more fierce.
"Yeah I mean it's going to be a lot harder and I think we're going to struggle a little bit but I think we can handle it," pitcher/third baseman Nathan Fink said. "Win a couple games and don't say 'Oh this is going to be easy.' All you have to do is win."
"(Just) keep on just playing our brand of baseball," pitcher/outfielder Will Ferguson added. "Good, hard baseball. Just playing your position and getting on base."
McIntire manager Jason Halloran says most of his team have been playing together from the tee ball level, so chemistry wasn't very hard to find and has taken them this far.
"These guys have gotten the opportunity to play together. They all know each other very well. They know how to work with each other," halloran explained. "We've worked really hard over the last couple weeks to get these kids to gel and to play as a team and they've done a really good job with that."
Halloran believes another reason the team has done well lies just up the road at Davenport Field in the College World Series finalist Virginia baseball team.
"A lot of our success comes from the fact that teams like Virginia are successful," Halloran said. "All of these kids have grown up...they're nine and ten years old. And how long has the UVa program been successful? 11 years now, right? So these kids have grown up watching and playing baseball."
Like most teams, McIntire has its standouts. Ferguson batted 1.000 during the district tournament and Fink was a key RBI-producer.
But Ferguson said the team has made it this far because of the whole lineup.
"Everyone on our team's been playing good," he explained. "The bottom of the lineup has been getting singles and doubles and triples. We're doing really good."
"It's about improving your game each week, reducing the errors, getting better in both individual as well as team skills," Halloran added. "And I know we'll see that coming out of this team for at least these three games we're guaranteed over the weekend."
McIntire will open pool play Friday at 5:30 p.m. vs. Annandale-North.