For the first time in history, Little League® will host Athletes Unlimited (AU) Pro Games during the Little League Softball® World Series on August 8-9. In the middle of its championship season, players and coaches from Athletes Unlimited Softball will relocate from Chicago to the home of the LLSWS in Greenville, North Carolina, to participate in a historic experience.
While the first-ever doubleheader show down will be played at East Carolina University’s softball stadium, AU players will first spend a day visiting Stallings Stadium at Elm Street Park on August 8 to meet and interact with all 12 teams from around the world that will compete in the LLSWS.
Ahead of an exciting summer of softball action, and with less than a month until the historic AU Pro Games at the LLSWS, Little League caught up with some of the AU players for a special “Six Innings” segment.
First Inning: What does It mean to you to be able to have the first-ever professional softball game at the LLSWS?
“It’s like a collision of both my worlds. I played Little League and I’m in AU, so it’s kind of like a full circle moment,” said Shannon Saile, a Land O’Lakes (Fla.) Little League graduate. “I’ve never been to the Little League World Series. I didn’t make it there as a little kid, so I finally get to go there and that’s pretty cool.”
“It means so much to me because I think of back when I was that age playing,” said Sam Fischer. “In the younger groups, there was not a lot of opportunity to see up close and personal a professional game of what I wanted to continue to do with my life. So, it means a lot and it shows that there’s been so much growth in our game that we can now go and interact with the youth.”
Second Inning: What are you most excited about for the AU professional softball game at the LLSWS?
“I am so excited to just see all the little girls,” said Megan Faraimo. “I remember exactly what it feels like sitting in those seats. So, I’m really excited for that, but I do think it’s important that these girls see, just the world sees, that we’re doing this thing. This is professional softball and we’re competing at the highest level and we’re having fun doing it.”
Third Inning: What have you and your teammates talked about with the upcoming professional softball game at the LLSWS?
“This is just so cool. I used to be in their shoes and now I’m here,” said Aliyah Andrews, an Oldsmar (Fla.) Little League graduate. “I think we’re all just so excited to be able to go there and play in front of so many people and play in front of the next generation.”
“It brings you back to those moments when we were really young playing softball and first finding our love for the game,”said Victoria Hayward. “So many of our athletes played Little League and I think just it reminds you why we play and just inspires us to play with our love, play with passion and just really being here for a bigger than ourselves purpose.”
Fourth Inning: How do you think the AU Pro Games at the LLSWS can help inspire young athletes?
“I hope that this game just inspires athletes,” said Peyton St. George, an Atlee (Va.) Little League graduate. “You know, no matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you look like, you know, anybody can play softball, and anyone can shine on the big stage. I think softball has just grown so much and when you’re surrounded by such a strong group of confident and empowering women, you know, you feel like you can do anything.”
Fifth Inning: What do you think the AU Pro Games at the LLSWS can provide for the future of softball?
“Continuing to show the growth of our sport at all levels, and I think part of growing the sport is uniting the youth side to the professional side,” said Ms. Hayward. “I love that Little League and Athletes Unlimited have decided to partner to show, you know, the possibilities of being a professional and it being a career that is taken seriously and something to aspire towards when you’re a kid.”
Sixth Inning: What is Athletes Unlimited?
“Well, Athletes Unlimited is literally the best thing in the whole wide world. It is a league where you can be exactly who you are and be celebrated for it,” said Sis Bates. “You’re competing for the people around you. It’s the best people in the best place, and it’s the most wonderful thing.”
To learn more about Athletes Unlimited and their support of Little League Softball, visit LittleLeague.org/AthletesUnlimited.