Later this week, all across the state, District Tournament play will begin for Montana's Class A American Legion baseball teams.

The Western A District Tourney begins Thursday at Libby's Lee Gehring Field, and this year's tournament promises to be the fiercest yet.

8 teams will be fighting for two state tournament berths. Take into consideration that the Mission Valley Mariners will earn an automatic spot at state because they're the hosts, and the field shrinks to 7 teams competing for just one spot.

The 8-team district is split into two separate divisions (North and South). The 4-team Southern division was wildly unpredictable this season, and the final league standings reflect that:

1. Mission Valley Mariners             10-6
2. Bitterroot Bucs                                 9-8
3. Missoula Mavericks                      9-9
4. Bitterroot Red Sox                         7-10

Everybody has beaten everyone else at least once throughout the summer, which means that this week's tournament will be cutthroat, competitive, and confounding. When the official bracket is released, I'll post it here on the blog.