Pickens' Perspective: Little League struggles this year show how impressive recent Fairfield history has been
It was quite a run for the Fairfield little leagues.
This town of 60,000 or so had an unprecedented run of success throughout Connecticut. You all know what Fairfield American's 12-year-olds did-- three straight district and state championships and two trips to the Little League World Series as New England regional champions.
Last year, a Fairfield team held all the district championships as 10-, 11-, and 12-year-old-- with Fairfield National claiming the 11-year-old crown.
But that, as they say, was then and this is now. It's not set in stone that a Fairfield team must win the district every year. And when Fairfield American's 12-year-old team lost to National on Friday, it was both the end of American's dynastic district 2 run and the first time American fell short of even the regional tournament since 2009.
And just as its American counterpart bit the dust, one day later the defending 11-year-old district, section and state champion National team fell to dominant Westport.
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Along those same lines, many in town grew accustomed to softball success. Yet, the 12-year-old team also lost in the district final, failing to reach the regionals for the first time since 2010.
But as the curtain seemed to close on these dynasties, perhaps it was only for a brief intermission.
Sure, there are not 12-year-old champions this year. We won't embark to Williamsport, Pa., or even Bristol, but the upcoming crop of 11s looks pretty good. American claimed the district championship -- routing Westport 10-0 -- then followed that with an 11-1 win over Shelton American in their section 1 opener.
Yet, two years down the road may usher in a similar era of softball/baseball tandem success. The Fairfield softball team's 10-year-olds claimed the local championship with a 1-0 win over Trumbull. In baseball, Fairfield American won the district as 10-year-olds-- with National hot on its tails -- then romped Wilton 13-2 in its sectional opener.
Does this mean these teams are locks to reach their respective world series? Absolutely not. What the past week's results prove is just how special the past three years' teams have been. Think about the teams they dispatched along the way. Consider the other squads that won their district but lost in sectionals or state or regionals.
If nothing else, it showcases how remarkably difficult the Little League World Series is to reach, yet American came a sixth-inning rally and a final from having three straight participants.
American lost three-- re-read, THREE-- 12-year-old Little League games against Connecticut opposition in three years. The league's 12-year-olds lost three games in the district tournament this year.
That's no knock on this year's crop of all-stars, it just goes to show how special the past three years have been.