Brian Triplett, an assistant coach for Loudoun South Little League, summed up his team’s whirlwind experience nicely on Friday night during their final practice in Loudoun County.
“I’ve never held practice with television crews in right field,” he quipped, pointing towards the outfield.
What he was referring to was a collection of reporters and cameramen in the outfield, all gathered at Lions Field in Aldie for the hottest story in town: Loudoun South Little League’s unbelievable path to the 2019 Little League World Series.
Just 48 hours prior, the team was 10 hours away in Georgia, putting the finishing touches on a historic run in the LLWS Southeast Regional. Anchored by starting pitcher Justin Lee and a grand slam from Chase Obstgarten, the boys from South Riding beat Peachtree City, GA by a 12–2 score to secure their spot in the Little League World Series.
Only 16 teams make the annual event in Williamsport, PA, eight from the United States and eight international teams. Before Loudoun South clinched their spot, a team from Virginia hadn’t been in the Little League World Series in 25 years.
“I’ve been a baseball guy my whole life,” head coach Alan Bowden said, as his team warmed up behind him, “and I’ve never really thought Williamsport was attainable.”
“They’ve worked so hard and they do deserve this,” he added. “They’re a great baseball team.”
Things like this don’t happen often and the entire community is really cherishing the moment, supporting the cause, and creating an infectious environment for the team. In addition to the press on hand, there were upwards of 50 spectators at Lions Field to watch the team practice on Friday evening. Many have been around since the whole journey began and plan to see it through to the end.
“We have a great group of parents and grandparents,” said Krystal Culpepper, mother of Loudoun South catcher Noah Culpepper, “and a lot of siblings have given up their entire summer just to watch their brother play.”
As for the team, they’re ready for what awaits them in Williamsport. From the primetime ESPN broadcasts to the players-only dorms they’ll stay in, known as “The Grove,” they know they’re incredibly fortunate.
“I can’t wait for the big stage,” Noah Culpepper said, just moments after solving a Rubik’s Cube for some of the cameras on hand. Culpepper was repeating the trick as a nod to his performance before their last game when ESPN producers had him solve the 3-D toy on national television.
The team left for Williamsport on Saturday in order to settle in and prepare themselves for their first game at the Little League World Series complex. Up first will be Barrington, RI from the New England Region on Thursday at 3 p.m. on ESPN.
If Loudoun South Little League can pull through and win the whole thing, they’ll be the first team from the DMV area to win the Little League World Series in its 73 years of existence.
U.S. Teams In 2019 Little League World Series
REGION TEAM LOCATION
Great Lakes Bowling Green Eastern Little League Bowling Green, Kentucky
Mid-Atlantic Elmora Youth Little League Elizabeth, N.J.
Midwest Coon Rapids American Little League Coon Rapids, Minnesota
New England Barrington Little League Barrington, Rhode Island
Northwest Sprague Little League. Salem, Oregon
Southeast Loudoun South Little League South Riding, Virginia
Southwest Eastbank Little League River Ridge, Louisiana
West Central East Maui Little League Wailuku, Hawaii
International Teams In 2019 Little League World Series
REGION TEAM LOCATION
Asia-Pacific Chung Nam Little League South Korea
Australia Cronulla Little League Sydney
Canada Coquitlam Little League Coquitlam, British Columbia
Caribbean Pabao Little League Willemstad, Curacao
Europe-Africa Emilia Romagna Little League Bologna, Italy
Japan Chofu Little League Chofu City, Japan
Latin America Cacique Mara Little League Maracaibo, Venezuela
Mexico Epitacio Mala Torres Little League Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon