Rockford Little League (RLL) is literally having a “banner year” in the 2012 District 9 All-Star tournament. Three Rockford teams have won their division banners during the District 9 championship games, and are advancing to play in state tournaments. The boys 12U Baseball team won the championship game with a shutout score of 3-0 against Hudsonville. The boys 10-11 Baseball team won against Byron Township in their final game with a score of 8-1. The girls 10-11 Softball team, not to be outdone by the boys, is advancing to the state tournament after blanking Byron Township 9-0 in their championship game. The three Rockford teams swept their brackets with perfect records.
Warren Lanphear, president of RLL, is all smiles this year. According to Lanphear, “This is the first time in 20 years we’ve had a Rockford [baseball] team in the state tournament.”
Lanphear is too selfless to mention the fact that two of his grandchildren are players on Rockford All-Star teams. Wendell and Lauren Lanphear have played in the RLL system for six and five years respectively. Last year, Lauren was a member of the 9-10 All-Star Softball team that won the District 9 championships and went on to the final eight at the state tournament in Parchment, Mich. This year, both of the Lanphear kids will suit up to represent Rockford in Little League state tournament play.
Wendell and Lauren don’t make the All-Star team every year because their grandfather is affiliated with RLL; it is because of their skill.
In Lauren’s case, she makes the cut every year because she is the best 11U catcher in the Rockford system, and has been ever since she “played up” in the Major Division her first season. Lauren’s batting average in the 2012 regular season was .529 (.462 during the All-Star tournament)—not bad for an 11-year-old playing up in the Majors Division. Lauren has been the leadoff hitter for her team for the last two years, and put up her first homerun this year.
Though Lauren has played in a state tournament before, this is Wendell’s first year wearing the coveted Little League patch on his left arm. Wendell saw plenty of action in his 12U game against Hudsonville. He scored twice, and had a line-drive single during the championship game against Hudsonville.
Both of the Lanphear kids are stellar ball players, and are coveted players each season during the Little League draft. This year, the District 9 championship banners will be hanging high in Rockford, and though Warren is too humble to mention it, his grandchildren are a big part of the reason that the banners are flying, and that the Rockford teams are advancing to play in the state tournaments.