Maybe the Mill Creek All-Stars didn’t win the Little League Baseball World Series last summer.
But the youngsters from Mill Creek won a whole lot of baseball games and gave themselves a bunch of terrific memories as they became the first Snohomish County team ever to reach the annual event in Williamsport, Pa.
The team was also just the sixth from Washington to qualify for the Little League World Series, and the first since Redmond North in 2004.
The talented kids get most of the credit for their magical season, of course, but the players also benefited from an outstanding group of coaches, including manager Scott Mahlum, who is one of four finalists for The Herald’s 2008 Man of the Year in Sports award.
Under Mahlum’s guiding hand, the boys from Mill Creek rolled to convincing championships at the district and state tournaments, continued to win decisively at the regional tournament (outscoring opponents 80-8, including a lopsided 10-1 win against Oregon in the title game), and reached the U.S. semifinals in Williamsport before finally seeing their magical season come to an end.
In Williamsport, Mill Creek opened with a 5-1 loss to South Lake Charles, La., rebounded with a 15-5 victory over Hagerstown, Md., and beat Jeffersonville, Ind., 3-2, before finally suffering a season-ending defeat against Waipahu, Hawaii, 9-4, in the U.S. semis.
Disappointing as the final setback was, Mahlum called the trip to Williamsport a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“It’s the greatest experience,” he said.