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Little league links Holtville and El Centro together for special first’s

El Centro will host the Section 7 Little League All-Star tournament for the first time, Holtville will represent District 22 for the first time in 68 years

EL CENTRO, Calif. ( KYMA, KECY-TV ) - For the first time in recent memory, the city of El Centro will host the Section 7 Little League 12U All-Star tournament.

"I don't think we've ever hosted so it's a real honor," El Centro Little League President Ivan Murillo said. "It took a lot of work."

Murillo had help from former El Centro Little League president Manny Vasquez, together they shared the vision of improving Frazier Field. Murillo also got the blessing from the El Centro Parks and Rec Department and backing from city council members. The grounds crew added new dirt and volunteers added the paint.

Dugouts with new paint at Frazier Field

"It had graffiti, we would find syringes there," Murillo said. "Now, I'm constantly there. I'm the first one there and last one to leave. My wife hates it but, I love it because I love baseball and I love working with kids."

For many years the tournament was only held in Holtville, Brawley and Sunbeam along with a San Diego District. All four rotate in hosting various age levels. After all the hard work Murillo and the many volunteers put in, El Centro got the green light.

"I was shocked," Murillo said. I'm not a crier but I had my moment."

The California Section 7 All-Star Tournament is always full with special teams. Including the 2013 Little League World Series American champion Eastlake out of Chula Vista. Eastlake would lose to the Musashi-Fuchū Little Team from Tokyo, Japan in the finale 6-4.

"A lot of very good teams come through here," District 22 Commissioner Jose Larios said. "The valley representative is always very strong, Eastlake comes through here, Fountain Hills has a long standing reputation. Spring Valley is strong. All of the teams down here are power teams."

A new face to the fold this year is Holtville. The Holtville All-Stars are making their first trip to the Section 7 Tournament in 68 years.

Photo courtesy of Cathi Phillips Larios

"I'm very honored," Murillo said. "Sad because my team didn't make it but honored and congratulations to Holtville. I'm going to be a gracious host and now Holtville represents District 22 and I represent District 22 so I support them."

The double elimination tournament begins at 7:30 p.m. at Frazier Field in El Centro. Teams on hand will be Holtville from District 22, Fletcher Hills from District 41, Eastlake from District 42 and Spring Valley from District 66. The winner of the tournament will advance to the Southern California Divisional hosted by District 62.

"From there then it's the 10 day tournament," Larios said. "They'll represent Southern California and play teams from Northern California, Nevada and Arizona. The winner will represent the West Region."

Larios adds that due to COVID-19, the international teams will not travel to Williamsport this year. Instead, the top two teams from each region in the United States will advance to the Little League World Series.

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Scott Gross

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