CHARLESTON -- With a slough of arms at his disposal, Charleston Squirrels manager Michael Minner is ready to see if his team can earn their way to a Midwest Plains Regional berth.
His Squirrels will have to navigate through a tough bracket as eight other teams try and do the same during the 2012 Missouri Senior Babe Ruth State Tournament at Hillhouse Park in Charleston.
"As always, we're excited," said Minner. "We enjoy showcasing this facility. This is probably the best state tournament we've ever had. There's a lot of good teams, even just around here, that have proven that they are quality teams and can win ball games.
"We feel like there are nine teams that are going to be competitive. It's going to be a long, hot week. It's going to be a team that guts it out that will prevail."
The Squirrels kick-off the double elimination tournament tonight against Kennett at 7 p.m. during the play-in game. Four games will be played Saturday starting at 10 a.m. and the tournament will continue till Wednesday.
Not that they have taken their recent state tournament's lightly, but the Squirrels haven't had much need in putting on their best showing due to the fact that they have received automatic bids into the Midwest Plains Regional for the last four years.
Charleston's free pass isn't in play this year.
"Whenever you have that automatic bid it's real easy to play free and easy," Minner said. "We've talked about that recently and its showed because we swing the bats well and we just play loose. All of a sudden we get in the regional, we don't hit and we kind of clam up.
"Hopefully, it's a situation where we have to battle and good things happen for us."
The Squirrels, who have hosted four state and three regional tournaments in years past, will rely on the arms of Paul Fox, Trevor Bennett, Tim Hillis, Zac Chasteen, Ryan Moses and a few others to get them through a possible nine-games as well as the grueling heat that has swept the area of late.
"With the heat the way it's been, we're going to have to use almost all of our arms if we want to make any noise," Minner said.
The Chaffee Honey Badgers will begin their state title run Saturday at 10 a.m. against Arch City.
The Honey Badgers, which consist mostly of players from the Chaffee Red Devils High School team, finished the regular season with an 18-11 record.
The New Madrid Quakes will begin tournament play Saturday at 1:15 p.m. against the possible favorite, the Poplar Bluff Thunder.
The Quakes, who feature players from New Madrid County Central, Portageville and Risco High School's, have the tough task of knocking of a Thunder team who ended up with a record of 33-4.
Park Hills and Boonville will play one another at 4:30 p.m. Saturday while the Jackson Senior Babe Ruth squad will take on the winner of the Kennett/Charleston game at 7:45 p.m.
The winner of the state tournament will be rewarded with a trip to Montrose, Colo., which is nearly 300 miles away from Denver, for the 2012 Midwest Plains Regional.
"Whoever wins this tournament will represent the state of Missouri very, very well," said Minner. "I would say whoever wins this tournament, has a good shot of representing the Midwest Plains at the World Series in Texas."