SEATTLE — It’s been 30 years since a team from Washington state has won the Little League World Series, but now a gritty gang of 11- and 12-year-olds from Sammamish are getting their shot at history. On Thursday, the Eastlake Little League All Stars will take the field in Williamsport, Pa., and try to come out on top of the 16-team tournament.
“It’s been great because I’ve got to experience a great team. We’ve got to go super far and it’s been super fun with all my friends, said Jack Matheson.
“It’s how we came together. At the beginning of the season, we weren’t really a team, we were molding, we had like different players this year and later on in the season we just kind of came apart and we played good baseball,” said Austin Oh. “When people go up (to the plate), we say stuff that makes them laugh and have fun at the plate, just keep the pressure low.”
While they’ve put the time in on the field with their training, and have tremendous depth on the roster, what sets this squad apart is its ability to have fun. The funny man responsible is Adam Carper. “He just like pops jokes when nobodies expecting it and stuff,” said Nathan Fitzgibbons.
“I make a lot of jokes around them; they don’t always make sense and they just say I’m funny and I don’t know why,” said Carper.
And what’s a winning team without a little superstition?
“I have a superstition of freaking out in the dugout to make our team better, playing,” said Jack Rud, while other players neglect to wash their socks.
“They’re pretty dirty, cause mojo, you can’t mess with the mojo,” said Jacob Dahlstream.
“It’s good to have fun and stuff and to be loose instead of being serious all the time,” said Cameron Bowers.
That’s not to say these young men don’t have their share of commitment and drive. “Just to compete, you know, it’s just like inning after inning, you got to compete, win that inning, lose or win that inning you still have a couple more to win the game,” said Zach Olsen.
“These kids will take a blow and then they will give one like you will not believe, and that’s fun as a coach. It’s amazing, these kids are really good players and the future of these kids is really bright,” said team manager Rob Chandler.