Root, Root, Root For The Home Team

Eastbank All-Star team ready for U.S., World Champion titles
River Ridge, Louisiana's Reece Roussel (22) heads back to the dugout after his grand slam home run off of South Riding, Virginia's Justin Lee celebrating with his teammates during the fourth inning of a baseball game at the Little League World Series tournament Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. River Ridge, Louisiana won the game 10-0. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)

 

The month before the NFL and college football is usually a quiet time in south Louisiana. Other than the annual guessing game of which players will make the team and who will start where, it’s slow news. But two bands of 12-year-olds have garnered the region’s attention.

The Eastbank All-Star baseball team has fought its way to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., and become must-see TV as they’ve positioned themselves to compete for the U.S. championship game on Saturday. If they win, they’ll advance to the Little League World Series Championship on Sunday night against the winner of the international bracket game between Japan and Curacao.

On Thursday night, the krewe from the bayou put on a clinic, dominating their opponents from Virginia, which started the tournament with back-to-back no-hitters, 10-0. Slugger Reece Roussel, the tournament’s top hitter, has been hitting almost everything thrown his way. He went 4-for-4 with a grand slam and three doubles. Pitcher Marshall Louque started the game by striking out five of the first six batters he faced. He pitched a no-hitter, striking out eight and giving up one walk when he hit a batter.

The team from River Ridge comes off winning the quarterfinal game by the 10-run-rule, which ends the game if one team gets a 10-run advantage over the other. They’ll face Hawaii in the U.S. final on Saturday, looking for revenge. The islanders are the only team to beat Louisiana’s team, winning 5-2 in their opening game of the tourney.

Social media channels have been lit up with posts about the team’s odyssey, but the boys aren’t the only local team to find success this summer. River Ridge’s All-Star softball team made their second consecutive trip to the Little League Softball® World Series in Portland. It’s only the second time in a decade that the same league has had teams play for championships in the same year. After finishing in third place last year, the team finished second this summer, losing the championship to North Carolina 4-1.

In an environment where money, politics, and off-the-field issues have negatively affected the nation’s top sports leagues, it’s refreshing to see kids play for the love of the game. Where professional and, sometimes, collegiate athletes treat the game as a job, in Little League there’s jubilation with each step toward victory and agony with each defeat. The games are as fun to watch as they seemingly are to play.

No matter what happens this weekend, the Eastbank All-Stars – girls and boys are winners. They’re the first teams from the region to qualify for the Little League World Series. They’ve captured the attention of their region, and have to be enjoying seeing their exploits broadcast across the nation and around the world. Just imagine waking up to see yourself pushing professional athletes to the margins as your games headline national sports highlight and talk shows.

Of course, the team can’t be content having reached the U.S. championship and positioning themselves on the doorstep of the world championship. Play hard. Keep your heads in the game. And bring home a World Series Championship.

We’re all pulling for you, boys!

Categories: The Pennant Chase

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