As MLB gets into gear for the World Series there has been hundreds of little league sluggers in the middle of their own World Series. Most of us usually tune into the Little League World Series (LLWS) around this time when it’s coming down to the final games. What we casual viewers don’t realize is that these 11 and 12 year old athletes have been going at it since mid-June. If you ever played little league baseball growing up you surely remember when the season ended and the All-Stars were selected, this is the beginning of a number of qualifying tournaments on the road to the LLWS.
It starts with District Tournaments. These are the tournament’s most of us past all-star players are familiar with, a weekend of local BBQ and some fun in the field. Little did we know we may be playing the next LLWS contender or better yet it could be us? After the double-elimination District tournaments the teams head into Sectionals and State tournaments at the end of July. Out of all the teams in the US only 52 will make it past the State tournaments. Once the state champions have been decided the road to the LLWS begins to heat up as only eight teams will make it past the Regional Tournaments.
The LLWS is made up of 8 US regional teams (Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, New England, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest, and the West) and 8 international region teams (Canada, Japan, Mexico, Asia-Pacific, Caribbean, European, Latin American, and the Middle East-Africa). Each year at Little League Baseball’s international headquarters in South Williamsport, PA., the 8 US teams compete for a championship slot against one of the international teams. This year’s LLWS brought the Southeast region Tennessee team to face off with the international squad from Japan that proved to be a truly remarkable group of players.
The Kitasuna Little League team from Tokyo was one of 750 teams in Japan that started down the LLWS road but the only team to make it to the end. Japan topped off a string of impressive performances with a huge win against the Tennessee team as they won by mercy rule in the 5th inning 12-2. Your TicketCity play comes in the form of a little league slugger that put on a performance most big league players can’t produce. Number 10 for the Japan squad, Noriatsu Osaka, went 4-4 with three home runs and a triple.
Just to put the LLWS in perspective, in the course of a 162-game major league season there will be a total of 2,430 games played. The entire LLWS tournament process will host over 37,000 games worldwide with a majority of the games taking place within a span of eight weeks. So kudos to Japan and all the little league teams for sticking it out and putting on some great baseball for the entire world to enjoy.
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