FARMINGTON — The Connie Mack regular season has come and gone and now seven teams will face off in the city tournament with the dream of hosting the Connie Mack World Series.
The double-elimination tournament gets underway today at Ricketts Park with the Rivercats and Aces playing the opening game.
The Aces defeated the Piedra Vista developmental team 9-7 in the teams' most recent encounter on Wednesday.
The winner will face off with Naa'taanii after they drew a bye in the first round.
Naa'taanii's had mixed results in the Connie Mack regular season, picking up wins over Strike Zone, DC MOB, the Aces and Bloomfield but losing games to 4-Corners, the Sting and Rivercats.
Naa'taanii head coach Tim Campos said his team will have to perform better at the plate if they want to earn the host bid to the Connie Mack World Series.
"We've been hit and miss in the city league," Campos said. "We have to hit. The key is to be consistent at the plate. We've been able to play and travel together and build more chemistry. We got a group that likes playing."
Campos is hopeful the early bye in the tournament will give his team an advantage in the later rounds.
"It's definitely a good break but the city tournament is difficult. We have some good teams in the tournament," he said. "No matter who you play, no matter where you're seeded, you've got to come out and play your best in this tournament."
The other half of the bracket gets underway on Tuesday with 4-Corners facing the DC MOB and Strike Zone squaring off versus the Sting.
Strike Zone has hosted the last three CMWS, and cruised through the city league regular season undefeated until a loss to Naa'taanii 7-6 in 10 innings on Tuesday.
Head coach Adam Morrissey is looking for a strong pitching and defensive performance from the squad if they hope to host a fourth-consecutive series.
"It comes down to how we play defense and how we pitch," he said. "Hitting-wise, I'm pretty confident with our lineup. We need to minimize the little mistakes that can come back and bite you in the butt."
Despite winning six of seven regular season games, Strike Zone had close wins against the Sting and 4-Corners and lost to the MOB early in the summer at tournament in Colorado, so Morrissey knows his team can't afford to overlook anyone they face.
"It's the same every year. You just hope when you get in you're playing your best baseball," he said. "It can go any way playing this game any day of the week. You hope you hit on everything preparation-wise and see how it goes."
The Strike Zone/Sting winner will face the MOB or 4-Corners.
The MOB won three games decisively over 4-Corners early in the season by a combined score of 28-2, but since then 4-Corners has won seven of their last nine at Ricketts Park while the MOB hit a small slump, dropping games to Strike Zone and Naa'taanii.
"We know that we didn't play the way we should during those games and that we can do a lot better. But our confidence level is always up there," said MOB outfield and pitcher Austin Davis.
Pitching has been the solid for the MOB and Davis said if they can hit throughout the tournament then the team believes they have an excellent chance of winning the host bid.
"Right now, our sticks are beginning to come back to us and our pitching has been carrying us, so we feel pretty good," he said. "We just need to come ready to play. We know we can compete with anyone, but we just need to stay confident."
The tournament runs July 8-14 with all games played at Ricketts Park.
Joshua Perry covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.