A World of Series
Big or Little, Junior or Senior, Little League International has a World Series for all. As the 2010 Little League Baseball World Series comes to an end Sunday in South Williamsport, Pa., we take a look back on all eight World Series tournaments in 2010
Source: South Williamsport, Pa.
You can't see every game on ESPN. Most of them won't have major leaguers, Hall of Famers, all-star broadcasters or a media contingent of hundreds. But there is one thing the other eight World Series tournaments have in common with the 2010 Little League Baseball World Series – passion for the greatest game in the land.
And while the World Series you are used to seeing in August winds down Sunday to close out the 2010 Little League season, World Series have been going on all month long.
Wait, you didn't know there were eight other World Series tournaments? Well, read on and find out about all the other opportunities Little League International has to offer.
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 win the Series title.
The 10-team tournament for 12- and 13-year-old girls features two pools of both international and domestic teams, allowing for the all-American title bout.
"It was a competitive game," said Little League representative Sara Thompson. "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 stopped in at the opening ceremonies to start the tournament off.
"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 from August 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 all-star teams of 13- and 14-year-old Little Leaguers.
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 title bout against Texas, allowing just three hits while striking out 10. He also helped himself at the plate with three RBI.
"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 Texas' 7-2 pool-play win 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 a team from Canada 4-3 in their 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, their 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 contested 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 ever, 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, but a different league [came]. From the U.S., all the leagues were different except the Southeast [and the] East."
The Junior League Softball World Series, also a 10-team field of mixed pools, was held from August 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. He also attracted the attention of several major league scouts who were in attendance, according to tournament director Mike Brooker.
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 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 champions 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 held 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 ballgames. 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 sent a team out of its Little League division to Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., as well.)
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 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 (District 1), but there was also a second team from South Carolina, a District 7 squad that won its way to Easley as the Southeast regional champs. 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 own 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.