Little League Champs from Down Under
For 67 years, teams from around the globe have come to Williamsport, PA, to compete in the Little League World Series. But Australia was one country that never fielded a team in the tournament. Until now.
On Wednesday, June 5, the Perth Metro Central Little League from Perth, Australia, became the first team to earn a berth in the Little League World Series. Perth Metro punched its ticket to Williamsport by winning the first-ever Australia Region Tournament in Queensland, Australia.
Baseball — especially Little League — has been growing more and more popular in Australia in recent years. According to Little League Baseball and Softball, 5,000 kids played on more than 500 Little League teams in Australia in 2012. That's more teams than in Japan. Because of this explosion of interest, Little League Baseball and Softball realigned the International regions after the 2012 LLWS to give Australia a chance to participate in the championship tournament.
"Today is a historic moment for Australian Baseball," Baseball Australia CEO Brett Pickett told Little League Baseball and Softball. "Going to Williamsport is a result of a lot of hard work and true growth of Little League Baseball in Australia. The quality of play seen here is a good indication that baseball in Australia, particularly at the Little League division, is positioned well for the future. Perth Metro will do us proud."
There are currently four players — all pitchers — from Australia on Major League rosters: Grant Balfour of the Oakland A's, Travis Blackley of the Houston Astros, Liam Hendricks of the Minnesota Twins, and Peter Moylan of the LA Dodgers. But as baseball expands down under, that list is sure to grow.
The Little League World Series takes place August 15-25 in Williamsport, PA.
Photo courtesy Little League Baseball & Softball