2016 JLWS champion back to attempt to defend title
By DAVE GORGON
For the Sunday Times Newspaper
TAYLOR — Five international teams have qualified for the 37th annual Junior League Baseball World Series set for Aug. 13 to 20 at World Series Field in Taylor’s Heritage Park.
Six teams from North America will qualify in the days leading up to the series – five regional champions from the United States, plus the Canadian national champions.
The 11 teams from across the globe will compete for the world championship of the 13- and 14-year-old division of Little League baseball. Teams from Chinese Taipei have won the title each of the last four years. A team from the Shing-Ming Junior Little League in Taoyuan City will attempt to defend its 2016 championship.
Joining Asia-Pacific champ Chinese Taipei in the International Pool will be Canada, Latin America champion Venezuela, Europe-Africa champion Czech Republic and the national champs of Australia and Puerto Rico.
The Canadian national tournament is scheduled to conclude Aug. 10 in Lethbridge, Alberta. The USA regional tourneys were scheduled for: July 31 to Aug. 7 in San Jose, Calif. (West); Aug. 2 to 8 in Santa Fe, N.M. (Southwest); Aug. 3 to 9 in Fort Myers, Fla. (Southeast); Aug. 4-9 in Freehold Township, N.J. (East); and Aug. 5-10 in Fort Wayne, Ind. (Central.).
World Series opening ceremonies are scheduled for 8 p.m. Aug. 12. The public is invited. Admission is free.
Four games are scheduled on opening day, Aug. 13. The international tournament will continue through Aug. 20, when the world champion will be crowned in an ESPN-televised game starting at noon.
Opening-day games include USA Central vs. USA Southeast at 11 a.m., Puerto Rico vs. Canada at 2 p.m., USA West vs. USA Southwest at 5 p.m. and Australia vs. Chinese Taipei at 8 p.m. The other three teams – USA East, Venezuela and Czech Republic – have the day off and start play Aug. 14.
The schedule was created when the teams were selected in a blind draw during a City Council meeting that was broadcast live on local cable television.
This is the second year the JLWS will use a format called “modified double elimination” as mandated by Little League International. Teams play a regular double-elimination schedule to determine the finalists for the International (3 p.m.) and USA (6 p.m.) championship games Aug. 19.
Then, the Aug. 19 winners play in the world championship game at noon Aug. 20.
World Series organizers noted that all teams arrive in Taylor as champions, having won national or regional tournaments played around the globe.
The cost of admission to the games is $5 per carload per day or $15 for a week’s pass. Both prices include parking. Heritage Park is located at 12111 Pardee Road. A second entrance is on Northline Road at Racho Road.
“We are praying for great weather and hoping for great crowds all week long,” JLWS founder and Director Greg Bzura said. “The World Series is a fun family event. It’s inexpensive. It’s a way to be a part of history while welcoming the world to Taylor. You’ll get to see today’s Junior League baseball players who may become superstars some day in the pros.
“Everyone is invited. Please help us spread the word. Tell your friends.”
Those unable to attend the games can watch them via streaming video.