Winners abound in Little League programme

Kingsley Collins

14 June 2018

 

Sixty young Aussie baseballers, their parents, coaches and staff face several weeks of hectic planning, anticipation and excitement before they embark on the sporting trip of a lifetime – participation at the 2018 Little League World Series in United States during July and August.

 

The recently concluded Australian Little League Championship tournaments have identified the four teams that will be heading stateside to compete against the very best emerging ballplayers from across the world – including Australia’s first entry in the Intermediate League. 

 

Joining us in congratulating those squads, Baseball Australia High Performance Manager Glenn Williams reminds us of the wider benefits of the Little League programme – including the opportunity for all to participate, to have fun, to travel and to make new friends.    

 

In commending all of the squads that performed so admirably at the recent series of Little League championships, we extend special congratulations to the four teams that will be representing Australia at the time-honoured and prestigious Little League World Series for 2018.

 

Senior League winner Cronulla will be travelling to Easley California for the Senior League World Series that will run from 28 July to 4 August. Comprising players in the 13-16 years age group, this event will draw intense attention from professional and college interests all looking out for the next potential superstar.

With its itinerary scheduled for around the same time, Northern Metros – comprising players 11 to 13 years of age - will be heading to Livermore California for the Intermediate League World Series slated for 29 July to 5 August. This will be the first time that Australia has been represented at Intermediate League level.

Powerful New South Wales junior baseball organisation Hills represented Australia at the Junior League World Series last year and will again be making the trek to Taylor Michigan for a repeat appearance in a tournament running from 12 August to 19 August. The Junior League event will involve youngsters of 12-14 years of age from across the globe.

Completing the tournaments for 2018, the Little League World Series will be held in South Williamsport Pennsylvania, from 16-26 August. Earning Australian representation with a strong win over Adelaide Seahawks, Gold Coast Cougars will no doubt enjoy a memorable trip as a group of 10-12 year old players competing enthusiastically at the epicentre of Little League Baseball.

Australian Baseball Alumni extends its best wishes to the teams that will be representing Australia at the 2018 Little League World Series. May the journey be everything – and more – that may have been dreamed of by these four squads and by the legion of other baseball youngsters attracted to our sport over the past several years.

 

“The Little League pathway provides a lot of unique opportunities for baseball that other sports don't have access to,” Glenn Williams told Australian Baseball Alumni this week.

 

“The easy one - the obvious one - to identify is the winning teams heading to United States to compete in the World Series events, but if you dig deeper there is so much more to it. Both from the community and local area element of the teams, the experiences the teams have together at the state and national events - and the fact that you don't necessarily have to be one the best players in your state or country to get the opportunity to compete at these events."

 

“I had the chance to be in Lismore the day before Little League nationals started,” he said. “I had the chance to see some of the teams practising - and the excitement of the kids being in Lismore, with their mates, ready to get out there and compete in the tournament was really evident. I think the way the tournaments are run, the live feeds, the online scoring and the social media coverage all make it really special for the kids.”

 

“You watch them practise and see that they are at so many varying levels of skill - and more so size - but they were all loving being there and excited to get the tournament started."

 

"It's an exciting and easy thing to put focus on the four teams who will head to United States in the coming months and the amazing experience they will have at the respective events representing their charter in the World Series,” Glenn Williams said. “But we should never lose sight of the experience of the kids who were on the fifty-odd other teams who competed in national events - and even more who competed at state-run events across the country.”

 

“That translates into a lot of young players getting a chance to travel and play baseball with their mates and creating memories that will no doubt last a long time."

 

Emphasising that the emphasis of the Little League programme remains focused firmly on participation, Glenn Williams acknowledges the vital role played by grassroots clubs, parents, officials, communities and volunteers in delivering the best possible experience for youngsters under the Little League programme.

 

“It is fundamentally about the kids playing, having fun and enjoying being part of a team,” he said. “Not every kid is a going to be a great performer – and nor should we expect them to be. But they all deserve to have a great time and - if they do - then hopefully that will make them stick around.”

 

“There is enough opportunity there for the talented kids and often the kids with some of the best skills aren’t the stars at Little League as they aren’t developed enough to compete on a strength level.”

 

“That’s the tricky part,” he said. “We need to create a great, fun environment focused on participation, so we keep as many engaged and so the kids who may be stars down the track don’t leave the sport.”

Australian Baseball Alumni extends its appreciation to Glenn Williams for his assistance in the preparation of this story. We again extend our best wishes to the four clubs representing Australia at the Little League World Series and we urge all youngsters involved in under-aged baseball to stay actively involved in our great team sport.