<
>

2017 LLWS team-by-team previews

play
Hills return to Williamsport (2:28)

Representing Australia for the second-year-running, the boys from the Hills are ready to laugh in the face of pressure and give the Little League World Series their best shot. (2:28)

The 2017 Little League World Series begins Thursday in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Here are scouting reports and fun facts for each of the 16 teams in this year's field:

U.S. Teams

Great Lakes: Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores Little League

Location: Grosse Pointe, Michigan

Scouting report: After dropping its opening game of the Great Lakes Regional tournament to Ohio, Michigan won four consecutive elimination games to advance to the Little League World Series. Michigan defeated Hinsdale (Illinois) Little League in the regional championship game 6-3. ... Michigan will be playing in its 11th Little League World Series. ... The last team from Michigan to make it to Williamsport was Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores in 2013. (That team went 0-3, in Grosse-Pointe Woods Shores' only previous LLWS appearance.) ... Michigan has not won a game at the LLWS since 1982, when Pinery Park Little League went 2-1. Michigan has lost eight straight LLWS games. ... Michigan opens the 2017 LLW against Texas on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. It will be the first meeting between the states in the LLWS. ... Michigan is 6-18 all time in the LLWS.

Fun fact: Pitcher Will Pflaum has not had a haircut since the regular season -- and hopes to grow it all the way down to his waist.

Mid-Atlantic: Holbrook Little League

Location: Jackson, New Jersey

Scouting report: The Mid-Atlantic representative has made the LLWS championship game each of the last two years. New York won the LLWS by defeating South Korea last year, while Pennsylvania fell to Japan in 2015. ... New Jersey is making its 18th appearance at the LLWS. Holbrook Little League is the first team from New Jersey to appear in the LLWS since Par-Troy East Little League from Parsippany did so in 2012. That team went 1-2 at the LLWS. ... Holbrook Little League is making its first LLWS appearance and also appeared in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament for the first time. ... New Jersey was a perfect 4-0 in the regionals, outscoring its opponents 43-15. ... New Jersey has won four LLWS titles, tied for second-most among U.S. states and trailing only California. ... For the second consecutive year, a team from the Mid-Atlantic region opens LLWS play against a team from the New England region. Last year, Maine-Endwell LL beat Warwick North LL 7-2 in the opener. Maine-Endwell LL went on to win the 2016 LLWS title.

Fun fact: Manager Robert Grano, who has coached this All-Star team for five years (since the players were 8 years old), lets the kids call their own games. He says he won't step in unless the pitcher and catcher aren't on the same page.

Midwest: Sioux Falls Little League

Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Scouting report: South Dakota is making its fourth LLWS appearance and first since 2014, when Canyon Lake Little League posted a 1-2 record. ... Sioux Falls Little League is in its first year of existence. ... South Dakota is 1-8 at Williamsport. The state's only win came in a consolation game against the Czech Republic back in 2014. ... South Dakota is 0-7 in non-consolation games at the LLWS. ... Sioux Falls Little League was the first North/South Dakota state champion from a city other than Rapid City since 1986 (when Langdon, North Dakota, represented the region). ... No Midwest Region team has ever made the LLWS championship game. ... Since the Midwest Region was created in 2001, its qualifiers are just 10-39 in Williamsport. ... South Dakota opens 2017 LLWS play against North Carolina on Friday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. It will be the first meeting between the states in the LLWS. ... South Dakota is 0-3 in LLWS openers. ... Sioux Falls Little League was the first state champion ever from the city of Sioux Falls.

Fun fact: The Sioux Falls Little League team stopped at Iowa's Field of Dreams to practice on the way to the Midwest Regional tournament. It must have helped; South Dakota went 4-0 in Midwest Regional play, defeating Missouri 6-0 in the championship game.

New England: Fairfield American Little League

Location: Fairfield, Connecticut

Scouting report: This is the 20th team Connecticut has sent to Williamsport, fifth-most among U.S. states. ... Of the six states that make up the New England region, only Connecticut has produced a LLWS champion. The Nutmeg State has four LLWS champions to its credit: Stamford in 1951, Norwalk [National] in 1952, Windsor Locks in 1965 and Trumbull [National] in 1989. ... Fairfield American LL is headed to the LLWS for the third time. All three trips have come since 2010. This is the first Little League from Connecticut to make it to Williamsport three times. ... Fairfield American is the only U.S. Little League to make three LLWS appearances since 2010. Japan's Tokyo Kitasuna (four) and Panama's Aguadulce Cabezera (three) are the only international Little Leagues with as many appearances in that span. ... Connecticut cruised through regionals, winning all three of its games decisively, including a 10-0 win over Maine in the title game. ... Fairfield American hasn't lost a game all summer: it is 18-0 through the district, sectional, state and regional tournaments. ... Connecticut opens LLWS play against New Jersey. It will be the first meeting between those states despite the fact that they have appeared in the LLWS during the same year five times previously.

Fun fact: Manager Mike Randazzo played college baseball at Seton Hall with future major leaguers Mo Vaughn and Craig Biggio.

Northwest: Walla Walla Valley Little League

Location: Walla Walla, Washington

Scouting report: Washington is making its 12th LLWS appearance and its first since 2014 (when Lynnwood Pacific Little League represented the state). ... Walla Walla Valley Little League appeared in its first Northwest Region Tournament and is making its first LLWS appearance. Washington beat Oregon in the regional title game after losing to Oregon earlier in the tournament. ... Walla Walla Valley Little League opens play against Santa Margarita Little League from California on Friday at 4 p.m. ET. This will be the first meeting between Washington and California at the LLWS. ... Washington has made the LLWS in three of the last five years (2013, 2014, 2017). ... The only Washington team to win a LLWS title was Kirkland National Little League, which defeated Chinese Taipei in 1982. Chinese Taipei had won the previous five LLWS titles. ... Washington is 20-18 at the LLWS (18-18 against U.S. States, 2-0 vs. international opponents).

Fun fact: Outfielder Billy Duncan, whom the coaches call the "toughest kid on the entire team and "the most coachable kid they've ever had" is playing on his first All-Star Districts team. He hit a key three-run homer during the state tournament.

Southeast: North State Little League

Location: Greenville, North Carolina

Scouting report: North State Little League is making its first appearance in the Little League World Series. ... North Carolina opens 2017 LLWS play against South Dakota on Friday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. It will be the first meeting between the states in the LLWS. ... North Carolina made it to Williamsport for the fifth time overall and for the first time since 2004. Its best finish at the LLWS is a U.S. title game loss against New Jersey in 1998. ... North Carolina is 4-8 at the LLWS. ... The last and only Little League team from Greenville to make it to the LLWS was Tar Heel in 1998. That team made it to the U.S. championship game before losing to the eventual champions from Toms River, New Jersey, who featured future MLB star Todd Frazier ... Nine members of the 1998 team from Greenville will be in attendance here in Williamsport. ... North Carolina has won in all three of its trips to the Southeast regional title game since the region was formed in 2001. ... North Carolina went 4-0 in regionals and outscored its opponents 26-10.

Fun fact: Eighteen of North State LL's 24 hits during its four Southeast Regional tournament games were singles. The team had just three doubles, one triple and two home runs.

Southwest: Lufkin Little League

Location: Lufkin, Texas

Scouting report: Texas is appearing in its 24th Little League World Series, the third-most appearances among U.S. states. Only California (48) and Pennsylvania (33) have sent more teams. ... Lufkin Little League (Texas East) went undefeated in regional play but had to grind it out against McAllister Park National Little League (Texas West) in both of their matchups. Lufkin Little League won both of those games by one run. ... Lufkin appeared in the Southwest Regional for the second time. In 2012, Lufkin reached the regional title game but lost to McAllister Park National. ... A team from Texas has reached Williamsport six consecutive years -- and eight of the last nine. ... McAllister Park American Little League from San Antonio represented Texas (West) last year in Williamsport, going 0-3. The only other time Texas went winless in an appearance at Williamsport was in 1954 (0-1). ... Texas and Louisiana are the only states that have won the tournament since the region was formed in 2002. ... Texas opens LLWS play against Michigan on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. It will be the first meeting between the states in the LLWS. ... Texas is 2-2 in its last four opening games at the LLWS. Prior to that, Texas had won 12 consecutive opening games.

Fun fact: Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is from Lufkin, and San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt went to Hudson High School in the Lufkin area. Both athletes have sent messages to the team.

West: Santa Margarita Little League

Location: Rancho Santa Margarita, California

Scouting report: California opens the 2017 LLWS against Washington on Friday at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN. It will be the first meeting between the states in the LLWS. ... California is making its 48th LLWS appearance, the most of any state. The state of California has made the LLWS in three consecutive and six of the last seven years. ... California has made it to 23 LLWS title games, winning seven times, both the most of any state. Its last championship came in 2011, when Ocean View Little League from Huntington Beach defeated Japan 2-1. ... California has won 107 games at Williamsport, the most by any U.S. state and 52 more than Texas, which sits second on that list. ... The only international teams that have won more LLWS titles than California are Chinese Taipei (17) and Japan (10). ... Santa Margarita Little League went 4-0 in the West Regional tournament, defeating Dixie Little League of Utah 11-7 in the championship game thanks to four home runs (including two by Drew Rutter, and one each from twins Bobby and Joey Gray).

Fun fact: There are two sets of twins on the team: the Gray brothers, and Matt and Nick Haddad, who are identical.

International Teams

Asia-Pacific: Seoul West Little League

Location: Seoul, South Korea

Scouting Report: South Korea, which is making its fifth LLWS appearance, has made it to the championship game in each of its four previous trips to Williamsport. South Korea won LLWS titles in 1984, 1985 and 2014 -- and lost in the championship game to New York last year. ... Seoul Little League made history in 2014 as the first team ever to win three LLWS titles. It was joined in 2015 by Japan's Tokyo Kitasuna Little League, which won its third title as well. Both teams are in this year's field. ... South Korea opens the LLWS against the Dominican Republic on Friday in the first meeting between the teams at Williamsport. ... South Korea is 4-0 in opening games of the LLWS and has an overall record of 15-2 in LLWS competition, with both losses coming in last year's tournament. ... South Korea has represented the Asia-Pacific Region in three of the last four LLWS. Last year, East Seoul represented South Korea, winning the international title before losing to Maine-Endwell (New York) in the LLWS title game. ... All five teams to represent South Korea at Williamsport have come from the city of Seoul. The Seoul metro area is home to more than 25 million people, making it the fourth-largest city in the world. Seoul comprises half of the population of South Korea, which has just over 50 million residents. ... South Korea outscored its opponents 45-2 at the Asia-Pacific regional. West Seoul won by 10 or more runs in three of its four games.

Fun Fact: This team has had the longest layoff prior to playing its first game in Williamsport. South Korea was the first team to clinch its spot in Williamsport and has has had a 42-day break between games.

Australia: Hills Little League

Location: Sydney, Australia

Scouting report: This is the second consecutive trip to Williamsport for Hills Little League. Hills is the first team from Australia to make back-to-back appearances in the LLWS. ... Three players from last year's team -- Stephen Courtney, Ethan Treble and Harrison Wheeldon -- will be returning to Williamsport ... Hills Little League went 7-0 during the Australia Regional Tournament. Hills scored at least 10 runs in five of the seven games. The fewest runs it scored in a game was eight. ... This is the fifth year that Australia has been its own region. In 2013 and 2014, teams from Perth, on the country's West Coast, made the trek to Williamsport. This will be the third consecutive year that a team from Australia's East Coast will appear in the LLWS ... Australia is 4-9 in the LLWS. ... Last year's Hills team won two games at the LLWS, becoming the first Australian team with multiple wins in a single LLWS. Australia has notched a win in each of its last three trips to Williamsport. Hills opens the 2017 LLWS against Japan on Friday.

Fun Fact: No team will travel farther to the LLWS than the team from Sydney, whose home city is 9,793 miles away from Williamsport.

Canada: White Rock-South Surrey Little League

Location: White Rock, British Columbia

Scouting report: This is the 61st team from Canada to appear in the LLWS, the most by any international country. ... White Rock-South Surrey Little League dominated the Canada Region Tournament, outscoring its opponents 114-28. Only one of its games was decided by fewer than six runs. ... White Rock-South Surrey is appearing in its fourth LLWS. The previous teams went a 2-7 in their first three appearances (1-2 in 2007, 1-2 in 2008, 0-3 in 2015). Both of those wins came against teams from Saudi Arabia. ... White Rock-South Surrey is the fifth Little League from Canada to make four LLWS appearances. ... Five teams from British Columbia have reached the international championship. None of those teams reached the LLWS title game, and 1998 was the last time a team from British Columbia got that far. ... Canada is 1-9 in its last 10 LLWS games. ... Since 1958, Canada has sent a team to the LLWS in every year except for 1975. ... Canada hasn't posted a winning record at the LLWS since 1998. That year, Langley Little League went 3-1, with its lone loss coming in the International Championship Game against Japan (that was Canada's last appearance in the international championship game). ... Canada hasn't appeared in an international semifinal since 2005. That year, Whalley Little League went 2-2 and lost in the semis against Japan. ... The only Canadian team to play in the LLWS Championship Game was Stoney Creek, Ontario, in 1965. Canada was defeated 3-1 in the title game by Windsor Locks, Connecticut. ... White Rock-South Surrey LL will open play against Emilia Little League from Italy on Thursday at 5 p.m. ET. Canada and Italy have played each other once before at the LLWS. (Italy beat Canada in 1979.) ... Teams from Canada are 47-125 all time at the LLWS.

Fun fact: Pitcher Chase Marshall's mother, Carrie, competed at the 1996 Olympics with Team Canada in softball. She was a catcher and played on the national team for six years.

Caribbean: Los Bravos de Pontezuela Little League

Location: Santiago, Dominican Republic

Scouting report: Los Bravos de Pontezuela Little League from Santiago, Dominican Republic, is back in the LLWS for the second time in the past three years. (It also made it to Williamsport in 2015.) Prior to that 2015 team, the Dominican Republic hadn't sent a team to Williamsport since 1996. ... The 2015 team from Los Bravos de Pontezuela posted a 1-2 record at the LLWS. It lost both its international games before defeating Oregon in a consolation game. ... This is the ninth team from the Dominican Republic to make it to Williamsport. The Dominican Republic's only LLWS championship game appearance came back in 1983, when Liquito Hernandez Little League from Barahona lost to Georgia (East Marietta) 3-1. ... Santiago de los Caballeros is the second-largest city in the Dominican Republic, and the capital of the Santiago Province. ... Los Bravos de Pontezuela went 4-1 during the Caribbean Regional. It lost to Aruba 6-2 in its third game but avenged that loss by defeating Aruba in the regional title game 8-4. ... The Dominican Republic will play South Korea on Friday in the first meeting between the countries at the LLWS. ... Teams from the Dominican Republic are 15-11 at the Little League World Series.

Fun fact: Coach Israel Puello's son Idelfonso was on the 2015 LLWS team. His oldest son, Israel (16), was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in July. He is a pitcher and is expected to join the team in September.

Europe-Africa: Emilia Little League

Location: Emilia, Italy

Scouting report: Emilia Little League will be representing the Europe-Africa Region in Williamsport for the second consecutive year and third time overall. Emilia went 5-0 in the Europe-Africa Region Tournament and beat London Youth Baseball Little League 12-2 in the championship game. Fourteen teams took part in the nine-day event held in Kutno, Poland. ... Emilia outscored its five opponents in regionals 47-9. Emilia's closest game of the tournament came in the opener, a 5-4 win over Romania. Emilia followed that up by winning its final four games by at least eight runs apiece. ... Emilia is winless in six LLWS games, but every game it played last year went the full six innings. ... Italy is 1-8 in the LLWS. Italy's only win in Williamsport came in its first game back in 1979, when Aviano Air Force Base Little League -- a team comprised of children of U.S. Air Force personnel -- defeated Canada. ... Italy's four LLWS appearances are the fourth-most by a European country. The three countries with more are Germany (16), Spain (9) and Russia (5). ... Emilia will start LLWS play against Canada on Thursday. This will be the second meeting between Italy and Canada at the LLWS: the only previous meeting was the aforementioned opener in 1979, which Italy won 4-3.

Fun fact: Not a lot of kids play baseball in Italy. Soccer, basketball, volleyball and rugby are the most popular sports according to Emilia's coaches.

Japan: Tokyo Kitasuna Little League

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Scouting report: Tokyo Kitasuna Little League will represent Japan for the sixth time in Williamsport. Kitasuna has made it to the LLWS championship game four times, and has taken home the title on three occasions. ... Japan has won four of the past seven LLWS titles, but will be looking to bounce back after a rough showing last year. Japan was eliminated in 2016 after dropping its first two games, the country's first 0-2 start since 1962. ... Prior to last year's loss to Canada in its opening game in Williamsport, Japan had started 1-0 in each of its previous 23 LLWS appearances. Japan is 24-3 in LLWS openers. ... Kitasuna was dominant as it went 4-0 to win the Japan Region and outscored its opponents 53-6 in those games. ... Japan opens play against Australia on Friday. Australia is one of the few teams that Japan hasn't played in Williamsport.

Fun fact: Japanese teams have always done well in the LLWS, but teams representing Tokyo have been dominant. In 14 previous appearances, Tokyo teams have won nine international titles and are 8-1 in LLWS title games.

Latin America: Luz-Maracaibo Little League

Location: Maracaibo, Venezuela

Scouting report: Luz-Maracaibo will be representing the Latin America Region in Williamsport. Luz-Maracaibo went a perfect 8-0 in the regional tournament, outscoring its opponents 81-9. ... Luz-Maracaibo is making its first LLWS appearance. This is the 14th time a team from the city of Maracaibo is heading to Williamsport. All other Venezuelan cities have accounted for six appearances in Williamsport: Barquisimeto (twice), Valencia (twice), Altagracia (once) and Maracay (once). ... Since appearing in the international championship in 2000, and eventually winning the title that year, Venezuela has appeared in seven international semifinal games, losing all seven times. ... Venezuela is appearing in the LLWS for the 20th time and for the third time in the last four years. Venezuela's 20 appearances are the most by a team from the Latin America region. ... Teams from Venezuela have won the LLWS twice, in 1994, featuring current Angels pitcher Yusmeiro Petit, and in 2000. ... Luz-Maracaibo will open LLWS play against Guadalupe Treviño Kelly from Tamaulipas, Mexico, on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET. Venezuela is 2-5 all time against Mexico at the LLWS. ... Since the LLWS expanded from eight to 16 teams in 2001, no team has gone on to win the championship after losing its first game. The last team to lose its opener and go on to win the title was Sierra Maestra Little League from Venezuela back in 2000 (each of the last 16 champions have started 1-0).

Fun fact: Coach Alexander coached current major Ender Inciarte and Rougned Odor at the Little League level.

Mexico: Guadalupe Treviño Kelly Little League

Location: Reynosa, Mexico

Scouting report: Guadalupe Treviño Kelly Little League outscored its opponents 39-3 in its first four games of the Mexico Region tournament. Its last three games were much closer; Guadalupe Treviño outscored opponents 22-13 in those contests. ... En route to winning this year's Mexico Region tournament, Guadalupe Treviño Kelly beat two little leagues with previous LLWS experience. Matamoros has appeared in four LLWS (1990, 2001, 2006, 2008 LLWS runner-up) and Guadalupe Linda Vista (1997 LLWS champion, 1998, 2004, 2014). ... Guadalupe Treviño Kelly is making its second LLWS appearance. In 2009, it lost to Chinese Taipei in the international championship game but beat Texas in the third-place game. ... Mexico has received an automatic berth in the LLWS since the tournament expanded to 16 teams in 2001. Prior to 2001, Mexico was part of the Latin American Region. ... Mexico is 5-2 against Venezuela at the LLWS.

Fun fact: New York Yankees pitcher Jaime Garcia played for Guadalupe Treviño Kelly Little League as a kid. Garcia FaceTimed with the players on this year's team, wishing them well, before they left for Williamsport. He has donated bats and gloves to the league in years past.