In a moment, it was all over – happiness swept over them with the realization of what they had just achieved, and they charged out onto the diamond from the dugout, crying and laughing, overcome with emotion. After all their hard work, passion, sacrifice and dedication, they had done it.
They were the Honolulu Little League, representing Hawai’i and the United States in the Little League World Series – and they had just been crowned the tournament’s champions.
The Little League World Series is an annual baseball tournament that takes place in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, United States, every August. It is the most important event at the Little League level, mostly involving teams of boys from ages 10 to 12 years old.
Initially, this event was only contested between American teams, but since the tournament’s inception in 1947, the Little League has achieved worldwide renown, gaining popularity and international participation.
While the United States has had a consistently strong performance in the Little League, Asian teams, such as Taiwan and Japan, have had incredible dominance as well. In fact, Taiwan is the team with the most Little League titles, with 17 in total!
Qualifying for the Little League World Series final was no small feat, however. There were two brackets: a domestic American one and an international one involving non-U.S. countries. The Little League World Series final is between the best team in the U.S. and the best team from abroad.
Not only does a player need to qualify for their state (if they are in the U.S.) or their country’s All-Star Little League team, but they must also have their team qualify for the World Series’ preliminary rounds through strong participation in regional tournaments. Only after they have passed through these regional tournaments, participated in the Little League preliminary rounds and faced some of the best Little League players in the world could they finally reach the World Series final.
However, Hawaii’s 3-0 shutout victory over the South Seoul Little League representing South Korea on August 26, 2018, had been no surprise. While the South Koreans had performed well throughout the whole tournament, even edging out powerhouse Japan with a 2 – 1 score in the international finals bracket, they were completely shut out by a Hawaiian team that had been overwhelmingly dominant throughout the whole event.
Hawaii had not only beat Georgia with another 3 – 0 shutout victory in the U.S. finals bracket, but they had also finished the tournament with an undefeated record in seven games, their total record being one of 12 wins, 0 losses.
Some highlights of the game, which was widely aired by ESPN and seen by thousands live, were the incredible pitching by Ka’olu Holt, Aukai Kea, and other reserves that left South Korea scoreless, a powerful solo home run from player Mana Lau Kong, and skillful baseball seen from base runners that were able to get on base and then take advantage of their situation to add two runs to Hawaii on a wild pitch and an error from the South Korean team. Their performance and victory even garnered praise from Hawaiian-born former U.S. president, Barack Obama, who tweeted “Congratulations to Hawaii for winning the Little League World Series! You make America very proud.”
This was Hawaii’s third Little League World Series, having won before in 2005 and 2008. Congratulations to them, and to all other fantastic teams who participated and performed outstandingly!