USA Southeast Region Champion
The first American team to qualify for this year’s Junior League World Series (JLWS) was the Frederick County National East Little League from Winchester, Virginia, which won the seven-state Southeast tournament held in Greenville, South Carolina. The Virginia state champions defeated the state champions of North Carolina and South Carolina, but were forced into the losers’ bracket by Tennessee. A win over Florida put Virginia into a rematch for the championship with Tennessee. Virginia won 10-0. Also in the region were the state champions of Georgia and West Virginia. This will be the sixth time a team from Virginia plays in the JLWS, but the first appearance by a team from Winchester. Nine teams from the Southeast region have won the World Series for 13 and 14-year-olds.
USA Southwest Region Champion
The Texas West state champions from the Weslaco Little League in Weslaco, Texas, won the USA Southwest Regional championship to advance to the Junior League World Series. Weslaco went 4-0 in the region in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, earning wins over the state champ from Louisiana, the host team from Albuquerque, the Texas East champs from Beaumont and a second victory over Louisiana, 10-0, in the championship game. Rounding out the seven-team region were the state champs of Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Weslaco is the first team in the Rio Grande Valley to qualify for a World Series - and Weslaco is the 17th team from Texas to play in the JLWS. Since the Southwest Region was formed in 2002, teams from the Southwest have won the World Series once - by El Campo, Texas in 2006. Before that, teams from Texas won the series in 1991 and 1996 when Texas was part of the Southeast region. Last year, the Oil Belt Little League in Corpus Christi, Texas, won the USA championship in Taylor.
USA East Region Champion
The New Jersey state champions from the Ridgewood Little League won the USA East Regional Tournament in Freehold Township, New Jersey. Ridgewood defeated Malvern, Pennsylvania, 8-1, in the regional championship game to finish 4-1 in the tournament. Avery Scott pitched a five-hitter, striking out five. Ridgewood’s only loss came against the Pennsylvania state champions, 2-1, forcing an extra game in the double-elimination tournament. Ridgewood also defeated the state champions of Connecticut and Maryland and the host team from Freehold. Also playing in the 10-team region were the state champs of Delaware, Maine, New York and Rhode Island. This is the 12th time a team from New Jersey has played in the JLWS. Teams from the East have won the JLWS twice. Waldorf, Maryland, took the title in 1986. Salem, New Hampshire became world champion in 1997.
USA West Region Champion
Pearl City, Hawaii, is making its seventh appearance in the JLWS. The Hawaii state champions won the Junior League Baseball West Regional Tournament in Vancouver, Washington, going 6-0 in the process. In the championship game, it took a 10th-inning walk-off double by Chaeston Chon to give Pearl City a 2-1 win over Manhattan Beach, California. Other Hawaii wins came over the state champions of Montana, Alaska, Northern California, Nevada and Washington. Rounding out the 10-team region were the state champs of Arizona, Idaho, Oregon and Utah. Teams from the West Region have won the JLWS 10 times - the most of any American region. The most recent came in 2009 when the Mountain View Little League of Scottsdale, Arizona, won the title in 2000 and 2001. Hawaii state champions have won the World Series four times. Pearl City was the world champ in 1989 and 2007. Aiea, Hawaii, won the title in 2000 and 2001.
USA Central Region Champion
The Junior All-Stars from the Johnston Little League in Iowa became the 10th and final team to qualify for the JLWS, outlasting 10 other teams to win the USA Central Regional Tournament in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Johnston had to beat two undefeated teams on August 13 - the final day of the regional - to win the tournament. In the morning semifinal, Iowa defeated top-seed Bowling Green, Kentucky, 16-7. After second-seed Chicago, Illinois beat Midland, Michigan, 5-3, in the other semifinal, Iowa won the tournament with a 6-3 win over the Illinois state champs. Johnston went 5-2 in the regional, losing to the same Chicago team to open the tourney on August 8 and then losing to the state champs of Indiana two days later. Johnston's other wins came over Wisconsin, Michigan and North Dakota. Rounding out the region were a host team from Fort Wayne and the state champs of Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio. This is the second team from Johnston - and the fourth team overall - to represent Iowa in the JLWS. In the 2008 series, a Johnston team went 3-2. Only one USA Central Region champion has won the JLWS. The first year the World Series was held in 1981, the world champion was from Boardman, Ohio. College football Coach Mark “Bo” Pelini played on that team. The former University of Nebraska coach has been hired to coach at Youngstown State.