TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Playing in the Little League World Series is the dream of a lot of youth baseball players. For the Chaires-Capitola 10 to 12 years olds, Williamsport, Pennsylvania is the goal. They're still a ways from getting there, but they're one step closer then they were a week ago, and they're looking to continue that journey this weekend.
"We want to be here. We want to compete," said utility player Jerrett Vaughan. "We want to get this dub."
"It's going to take confidence," added shortstop Tyler Wilson. "It's going to take focus, and it's going to take a team effort."
Tallahassee's Chaires-Capitola Little Leagues 10-12 year old team is one of the final eight left in the state of Florida.
"Lot of these guys have played baseball together, core of the group since they were six years old," said head coach Scott LaFuria. "Kids are excited, and they're ready to go this weekend."
It's a step closer to their ultimate goal, Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the Little League World Series.
"Can't really have a lot of nerves going into this, or we'll mess up," said Vaughan. "We just have to play free."
"We tried to set modest goals at the beginning of the All-Star season to make it back to state," remembered LaFuria. "The kids quickly cut me off and said, no coach, we want to go to regionals, we want to go to Warner Robbins and get on ESPN and chase that dream of getting to Williamsport for that last year."
But first, state, a point in the journey many reached last year and lost.
"Definitely play hard," said Wilson of making it to state. "If you lose two in those first three, you're done. We have to know that."
Lessons learned and grown from.
"I think we had high expectations last year, and then faced some really tough teams from all over the state of Florida," said LaFuria. "The kids get it, the understand the competition is going to be very tough."
But this team is ready.
"We have a bunch of banners of the previous sectional winners, and just winners of tournaments of the great Chaires teams that have played," said Wilson. "We're hoping to continue that legacy, and help the younger kids come through and make an impact on Tallahassee too."
And add a few more banners to the collection. Chaires-Capitola had a successful season across the board, as all three programs made it to state. The 10-12 year old group now looks to be the only team to win and advance to the regional round.
Their first game of pool play is Friday. If they win their pool, they advance to a winner take all state championship game on Sunday.