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The 12U baseball team took home district championship for first time since 2005.

COURTESY PHOTO: JENNIFER KOMP - Scappoose Little Leagues 12U All-Star team wins the district 1 championship on July 9.Scappoose Little League's 12U team won the district championship last week for the first time since 2005, and only the second time since the district was formed more than 60 years ago.

The Scappoose 12U All-Star team took the top players from the three Scappoose teams in the Majors, which included 11- and 12-year-olds. For the regular season, the teams are decided through a draft, so skill level is dispersed.

Coach Doug Nassimbene said that after tough losses last year as the 11U All-Star team, players were eager to redeem themselves.

"From last season with losing the way we did," Nassimbene said, a focus this season has been "just telling the kids to believe in themselves, to play hard. They have the ability to win, they just gotta trust it."

District 1 includes Columbia County and some Portland teams.

Going into districts this month, Hollywood Rose City had a three-year winning streak. COURTESY PHOTO: JENNIFER KOMP - Players hold a banner announcing their district 1 championship win.

Scappoose hosted the district tournament this year and defeated Hollywood Rose City 2-3 early on. The two teams faced off again in the championship game, with Scappoose coming out on top.

At the end of last season, Grace Kessi said her main goal after last season was to beat Hollywood Rose City.

"It's a big difference, going from last year, being destroyed in All-Stars to now, making it to state," Taylor Nassimbene said.

While the end of last season left Taylor Nassimbene feeling disappointed, the end of this year's district competition left him feeling "joyful and excited."

The state tournament starts July 16 in Hermiston. Scappoose Little League started fundraising after winning districts and quickly raised more than $1,500 — an amount which the local nonprofit Run With Neil offered to match. PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Scappooses All-Star team practices at Veterans Park the week before the state tournament.

"It just shows how much the community backs the kids. It's just fantastic," Doug Nassimbene said.

"I like that everyone's excited. It's fun," Grace Kessi said, adding that her cousins would be watching the team play in Hermiston.

"Our philosophy is 'it takes a village.' We have a phenomenal fan/parent base," Doug Nassimbene said.

Nassimbene, Scott Harrah and Steve DuBois are the three coaches for the All-Star team and all coached during the regular season as well. Other parents — Randy Darco, Paul Egan and Patrick Kessi — assist the coaches. Harrah is also in his fourth year as board president.

"Putting in the work and just grinding, focusing" will be key to the team doing well at state, Justin Darco said.

Justin Darco is "the most vocal, the one that is constantly pushing kids to hustle and get to their spots and just focus up," Doug Nassimbene said.

Before districts, Grace Kessi said she felt like expectations weren't high.

"Because we lost to them last year," Kessi explained. "I felt like if we won, it would be a big deal. If we lost, it wouldn't really matter."

Now, heading into state, Kessi said she believes the team has a real shot at winning.

The All-Star team had roughly a month of practice ahead of districts. Though they weren't all on the same team during the regular season, most of the players already had experience with their teammates through the All-Star 11s team last year and other sports and teams, Nassimbene said.PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - The All-Star team has been practicing daily in the week between districts and state.

"When we won districts on Saturday, we took Sunday off and have been doing three-hour practices every day this week," Harrah said.

Scappoose Little League has T-ball programs starting at 4 years old; softball programs starting at 7; and baseball starting at 6. Between all the programs and teams, the program has more than 300 kids involved each year, Harrah said.

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