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Czech Republic Is Living The Dream For The First Time At The Little League Baseball® World Series
By Brenna Urban
This is Czech Republic’s first year representing the Europe and Africa division in the 67-year history of the Little League Baseball World Series. South Moravia Little League traveled 4,288 miles to Williamsport, Pa., to represent their country and region with pride and excitement.
South Moravia Little League had an undefeated run in the regional championship series that included upsetting a team from the American military base at Ramstein, Germany, 3-1 and going on to beat Rotterdam Little League® from The Netherlands, 11-8 in the semifinals to advance to the regional championship game.
In the championship game, the team from Brno, Czech Republic, defeated the team from Emilia, Italy, 3-0 to clinch the regional title and move on to the Little League Baseball World Series.
Little League® has seen much growth in Europe in recent years, thanks to its strong relationship with the Confederation of European Baseball and its commitment to developing young players.
Manager Jan Gregor explained that the leagues in the Czech Republic have grown exponentially in the past five years thanks to the dedication of Little League volunteers and players. While baseball isn’t the most popular sport in the country, it is gaining momentum and recognition with the help of developmental programs.
“Brno has become the biggest baseball city in all of Czech Republic with about 5,000 players and it will continue to grow,” said Gregor.
Czech Republic is thrilled to be able to play in the Little League Baseball World Series. Most players have never been to the United States before and Europe and Africa’s coaches are trying to make the most out of their experience for their players.
“It’s a dream to be playing here in the States and we are very excited,” said pitcher, first baseman and outfielder Viktor Vecerka.
One of Europe and Africa’s players, Eliska Stejskalova, is the only female player in the 2013 Little League Baseball World Series. She explained that she is used to playing with boys and it does not intimidate her one bit being the only female in this year’s tournament.
“It feels normal for me, I just like to play baseball,” said Eliska.
When Eliska came into the game during the fourth inning of Europe and Africa’s first game against Japan, the crowd at Volunteer Stadium gave her a standing ovation. Her first at-bat began with loud cheering and support from spectators. Eliska reached base on a sacrifice bunt and sent one of her teammate’s home for an RBI. She also caught multiple innings to contribute to Europe and Africa’s defense.
“It was a great feeling to help the team, I had a lot of fun playing today,” said Eliska.
Czech Republic lost their game to Japan 7-3 Friday evening, but the loss will not define the resilient Europe and Africa team in the upcoming days.
“We showed everyone that it is possible for us to play world baseball, and that is a great accomplishment for us,” said manager Gregor.