By Ethan Roy
Qualifying for a Little League® World Series tournament is no easy feat. The tournaments that result in World Championship games are the culmination of a summer full of practices, games, excitement, and anguish.
The prelude to competing with the best Little Leaguers® in the world consists of commitment and stellar performances in district, sectional, and state tournaments. These competitions take place before even qualifying for a regional, where teams need to be at the top of their game to defeat champions from other states or provinces to prove they are the best of the best.
Only once in the past 10 years has the same league represented their region in both the Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® World Series in the same season. In 2019, the feat was repeated as the same league represented their region in both Williamsport and Portland.
Eastbank Little League from River Ridge, La., joined the 2009 Warner Robins (Ga.) American Little League teams as the only league in the past decade to accomplish such a rare two-fer.
The odds are impossible to calculate, but Scott Frazier, team manager for Eastbank Little League Baseball, had a very simple explanation for it.
“Success breeds success,” said Mr. Frazier.
Eastbank Little League has a history of success in the Little League Softball® World Series, as 2019 marks the second consecutive appearance in Portland. After placing third in 2018, they followed it up with a second-place finish this year, falling to North Carolina 4-1 in the Championship Game.
For Eastbank Baseball, however, the Little League World Series is uncharted territory. This is the Louisiana team’s first appearance in Williamsport, and their close friendship with the softball players has helped prepare them.
“We have a great relationship with all the softball players,” Frazier said. “There was even a practice where Kayla Giardina, the pitcher for the softball team, pitched against all our boys just for fun, and she mowed them down.”
Eastbank Little League Softball had an incredible run in the past two years in the Little League Softball World Series. In 2018, after winning four and losing one in the Southwest regional, Eastbank was ready to represent their region in Portland. They finished in third place, winning six and losing only one.
This year, the team went undefeated in the Southwest regional. Once they got to Portland, they fell in their opening game to the Southeast team. However, they battled their way out of the losers bracket, winning five straight games and outscoring opponents 40-7 to make it to the championship game.
Although Eastbank Little League’s baseball team now has to fight their way out of the loser’s bracket, they’re not worried. They’re just hoping to continue to follow in the footsteps of their friends on the softball team to continue their incredible summer.