A World of Series
Little League's International Tournament Season Made for an Exciting August
The 64th Little League Baseball World Series came to an end on Sunday, Aug. 29, in South Williamsport, Pa., capping another wonderful Little League summer. Now it’s time to look back on other divisions of World Series play in 2010.
Silence of the Lamb
LITTLE LEAGUE SOFTBALL – Portland, Oregon
One of just two World Series to feature a pair of U.S. teams in the final, the Little League Softball World Series enjoyed one of its best years yet in 2010. Warner Robins American Little League (Ga.) defeated Burbank Little League (Calif.), 8-6, in the championship game of the Portland, Ore., tournament to repeat as World Series Champions.
The 10-team tournament for 12- and 13-year-old girls features two pools of with International teams and teams representing regions from the United States, allowing for the all-American title bout.
“It was a competitive game,” said Sara Thompson, Little League Softball Manager for Little League International. “The West never gave up, even though they were behind. Both teams put in a great effort. And after it was all over with, the coaches shook hands and it was a good show of sportsmanship because it was a tough game.”
Warner Robins went a perfect 10-0 through regional play and World Series action, and pitcher Avery Lamb pitched in seven of those contests, compiling four complete games. But it was teammate Hayley Tierce who earned the six-hit complete-game victory in the final.
But one of the other top tournament moments came before the games even started. Famed UCLA softball coach Sue Enquist visited Portland to talk to all the Series participants – players, coaches and umpires alike. After talking to the players in a separate meeting of their own, Enquist then met with the coaches, managers and umpires to talk about the struggles and pressures of coaching at this level under such a bright spotlight.
She also was a guest at the tournament's opening ceremonies.
“Overall, the Series went pretty well,” said Thompson. “We made a few changes this year, the biggest of which was that we had the kids stay in hotels instead of with host families. The teams really enjoyed being able to interact with each other and with other teams at breakfast and after games, being able to go to a pool party or a pizza party together. It was easier for them to make friends this way.”
JUNIOR LEAGUE BASEBALL – Taylor, Michigan
The Junior League Baseball World Series in Taylor, Mich., was held Aug. 15-21, and the Asia-Pacific champs from Taipei City, Chinese Taipei took home the title with a 9-1 win over Tyler, Texas. The Junior League World Series features the best 13- and 14-year-old Little League all-star teams.
Chinese Taipei went 4-0 in international pool play and then beat Guatemala City, Guatemala, 10-3, in the International Championship. Chinese Taipei (6-0) was the only unbeaten team among the 10 in the World Series. The Asia-Pacific All-Stars outscored their opponents, 57-11.
Tzu Wei Lin tossed a complete game in the final game against Texas, allowing just three hits, while striking out 10. He also helped himself at the plate with three runs batted in.
“Chinese Taipei is probably the most dominant team we’ve ever had [in 30 years],” said Tournament Director Greg Bzura.
On the United States side, Tyler, Texas, and El Monte, Calif., finished pool play with 3-1 records. Texas then defeated California 8-2 in the U.S. Championship.
The Texas squad, representing the Southwest Region, featured Patrick Mahomes, son of former Major Leaguer Pat Mahomes. In a 7-2 pool-play win for Texas over Mechanicsville, Va., Patrick homered and had a two-run single.
Not to go unnoticed was Ukraine’s second-ever visit to the Junior League World Series. The Kirovograd Center/Rivne Little League All-Stars defeated Canada, 4-3, in its first game before suffering a 13-0 loss to Chinese Taipei, a 3-0 setback to Mexico and a 3-2 loss to Mexico.
Ukraine went 0-4 in the 2007 Series, its first appearance.
“It was like they won the world championship,” Bzura said of Ukraine’s win over Canada. “It wasn’t ‘What are we doing here?’ They were here to play. They won their first game, so it made their entire week.”
“They were competitive,” he continued. “It was a very, very competitive team.”
Walk Off This Way
JUNIOR LEAGUE SOFTBALL – Kirkland, Washington
ASOFEM Little League from Maunabo, Puerto Rico, took a 4-3 victory over West Tampa Little League to repeat as the 2010 Junior League Softball World Series Champions in Kirkland, Wash.
The Latin American champs scored in the bottom of the seventh to edge the U.S. Champs, who had just tied the game up in the top half of the final frame. Michelle Rivera was the winning pitcher for Puerto Rico.
“The championship was an excellent game all the way,” said tournament director John Chadwick. “Bottom of the seventh – couldn’t ask for much better.”
Guam made an appearance at the Junior League Softball World Series for the first time, representing the Asia-Pacific Region. And while they were the only new country to visit Kirkland in 2010, they were far from the only first-time league.
“Almost all the teams were new,” said Chadwick. “Italy, this was the country’s second year in the World Series, but a different league. From the U.S., all the leagues were different except the Southeast and East.”
The Junior League Softball World Series, also a 10-team field of mixed pools, was held from Aug. 15-21.
Root, Root, Root for the Home Team…
SENIOR LEAGUE BASEBALL – Bangor, Maine
The Senior League Baseball World Series celebrated its 50th anniversary this year in Bangor, Maine, where the event has been held since 2002.
Aruba South Little League of San Nicolas, Aruba, took the 2010 title after losing in the semifinals last year, defeating host team Bangor East/West Little League, 8-1.
Aruba’s Shawn Duinkerk tossed a complete-game victory for the Latin America representatives, allowing five hits and striking out five over seven innings.
The tournament was another success for Bangor, which enjoyed seeing its own squad in the title game for the first time.
“The tournament went very well this year, no hitches at all, and we had great weather,” said Tournament Director Mike Brooker. “Having the host team advance further than they ever have produced a lot of excitement in the town.”
Indeed, about 3,000 fans attended the host’s semifinal match, and close to 4,500 came out for the championship game, turnouts that, according to Brooker, were significantly higher than usual.
Made in America
SENIOR LEAGUE SOFTBALL – Lower Sussex, Delaware
Northside Suburban Little League of San Antonio, Texas, won the 2010 Senior League Softball World Series, topping East Region Champion Haverstraw, N.Y., 3-1, in the championship game. It was the second of just two all-American title games among the eight divisions.
The two-run victory was more-or-less an expected result for the Southwest Region representatives, who had won by two or less in three contests and eight or more in its other three.
Tournament director Martin Donovan was pleased with how the Series went off in its seventh year in Lower Sussex, Del.
“We had a good turnout and everything went fine,” said Donovan. “We had a good bunch of girls this year, though you could say that about every year here. There were some close games. It was very competitive.”
The KMC American Little League from Germany’s Ramstein Air Base sent its first of two teams to a World Series in 2010 when the Senior League team went to Lower Sussex as the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) representative. (The league also qualiftied a team from its Little League Baseball division. That team represented the Europe Region in the Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsport, Pa.)
The Big Easley
BIG LEAGUE BASEBALL – Easley, South Carolina
Easley, S.C., has hosted 10 Big League Baseball World Series and Tournament Director Jon Humphries called this year’s event one of the best he’s seen.
The Big League Baseball World Series begins with a home run derby and concert each year. This year, the band Boys Like Girls headlined the event, drawing about 7,000 people. Puerto Rico ultimately won the championship, defeating Thousand Oaks, Calif., 3-2.
“It was excellent baseball,” Humphries said. “We had the two best teams playing that day.”
The Big League World Series included a host team (South Carolina District 1), but there also was a second team from South Carolina. A team from District 7 won its way to Easley as the Southeast Region Champion. The two local teams helped increase community involvement in the tournament, which had a title sponsor for the first time in Baptist Easley Hospital.
“The community embraced it a little more,” Humphries said. “They had a great time out there.”
…If they don’t win it’s a shame
BIG LEAGUE SOFTBALL – Kalamazoo, Michigan
Though an international team reached the Big League Softball World Series Championship Game for the third year in a row, the tournament had a local feel.
Grand Rapids, Mich., the Central Region Champions, defeated the Philippines, 14-4, to win the World Series in their home state. Tournament Director Bud Vanderberg said there were between 4,000 and 5,000 fans in Kalamazoo at the championship game, which was played in primetime on ESPN2 for the second-consecutive year.
“That really brings the crowd out,” Vanderberg said.
The TV commitment expires after this year, but Vanderberg is hopeful ESPN will return in the years to come.
This was the 30th year Kalamazoo hosted a World Series.