Players, managers recognize the "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity"

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They know it’s corny, but for the Redmond/Eastlake Little League team, hosting the 2009 Junior Softball World Series is special.

“For them to get a chance to play at an international tournament, getting to play with that level of competition, it truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — and they realize that,” said manager Mark Gransee.

Two teams of 13-14-year-olds combined in June to form the Redmond/Eastlake all-star team, which won the District 9 championship against Sammamish Little League 9-0.

“They’ve just blended so well,” Gransee said. “It’s hard to tell it’s two teams that came together.”

This is the 11th Junior Softball World Series, all held at Everest Park in Kirkland and hosted by the district champion.

Redmond/Eastlake plays its first game at 5:45 p.m. Sunday against a team from Maunabo, Puerto Rico. The championship game will be at 4 p.m. on Aug. 22 and will be broadcast on ESPN Classic.

Joining Redmond/Eastlake and the Puerto Rican team are teams from La Grange, Texas; Tampa, Fla.; Elyria, Ohio; Santa Clara, Utah; Nanticoke, Pa.; Makati City, Philippines; Milan, Italy; and Windsor, Ontario.