LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - How do you build a champion? The Lufkin little League hopes they have solved that equation.
For six years, the Lufkin Parks and Recreation Department has been building a little League.
For decades prior, 12 year-old kids growing up in Lufkin could only watch the Little League World Series on TV. They were regulated to other leagues such as Dixie and Pony for their playing time.
"It will start in the fall that this year, this is the year that we will have a ball club that can go to Williamsport," Assistant Lufkin Parks Director Matthew Hubert said.
As the team of 12 year-olds prepare for their toughest test this year in the Southwest Regional Tournament, they carry on a tradition of good East Texas baseball.
"Lufkin has always been a strong baseball town," Manager Bud Maddux said. "I think people expect us to do this good."
It's a tradition that for years has brought success on the diamond, but never little league.
"With sports there is all different type of organizations that you have an opportunity to participate in but Little League at this age group is known world wide," Hubert said. "You get to be on national TV. For the kids there is nothing that tops this. It is just a fun game."
The first year in Little League International saw their first success story with the All-Stars going to Waco, but those around this team say this year is different and Waco might have once been the goal but this team has a bigger goal.
Who's to say it stops at Williamsport. Maybe this team has the next Brandon Belt.
"You can just look at the God given athletic ability that some of these kids have at an early age, if that keeps progressing then the sky is the limit for a lot of these kids," Hubert said.
The team will play their first game at 10 a.m. on Thursday against the Academy Little League All-Stars from Colorado.