A Loudoun County, Virginia, Little League team finds itself among the 16 best Little League teams in the world.
As Loudoun South tries to play its way to a Little League World Series win, one man with a lifetime of experience in Little League said just getting to this point is an amazing feat.
“It’s a huge achievement,” said Ray Thomas, who is a member of the Montgomery County Little League’s board of directors.
Thomas, who has been involved in Little League Baseball for the better part of 52 years, said this team had to come a long way for a spot in the championship, winning their way through the southeast division.
“It’s one of the more difficult regions to compete in for the Little League World Series,” he said.
Many teams wanted to be where Loudoun South is, including teams from Georgia and Tennessee, states which — according to Thomas — are home to some historically strong teams. Loudoun South is the first Virginia team to get to the Little League World Series in 25 years.
Getting a team of kids to this level of playing is a multiyear process that involves finding players from the team’s area, helping the kids grow their skills and getting them experience in playing games on the road, Thomas said.
“It doesn’t just happen by chance; it doesn’t happen overnight; it doesn’t happen like, ‘Yeah, we’re picking all-star teams’; it’s way more involved than that,” he said.
According to Thomas, the teams from California, New Jersey and Hawaii are among the other strong contenders this year. And of the six teams from outside the U.S., Thomas said, Japan is the one that will be really difficult to beat.
“They have a strong culture of Little League in Japan,” he said.
Thomas does believe Loudoun South could bring Virginia and the United States a victory: “The fact that they won their region, which is a very tough region, would suggest to me that they have a chance,” he said.
After weather postponed Thursday’s game, Loudoun South will take on the New England Region champions Friday at 10 a.m.
Win or lose, getting this far is something the team can be proud about, Thomas said.
“It’s great for the kids obviously. You’re living the dream. It’s great for the families. It’s great for the community,” he said.
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