Little League World Series 2012: Showcasing Top Teams to Watch in the Bracket

Chris Hummer@chris_hummerAnalyst IAugust 13, 2012

It's one of the most magical times of the year on the diamond—the Little League World Series.

Kids ages 11-13 flock to Williamsport, Pa. to compete for the glory of being crowned Little League World Series champions, a title that means they’re the best team in the world.

Better yet, these kids play with an unbridled passion and showcase an emotional intensity that no paid professional ballplayer could ever match.

These kids just enjoy the journey, and they seem to live for every moment of it.

From the dog piles at home plate and on the pitcher’s mound after wins to the sniffling faces after the losses, it's just a joy to watch.

The tournament kicks off on Aug. 16 in Willamsport and will be showcased on the ESPN networks.

So, with the tournament approaching rapidly, let's take a look at the top teams to watch in the bracket.

 

Petaluma National Little League, California

The Petaluma little league team won the West region on Sunday in an exciting victory over Hawaii's representative 7-4.

This means that Petaluma is carrying the torch of last year's champions, Huntington Beach, who took home the tournament title to California.

The West region champions usually make a deep run into the tournament, and Petaluma should be no different.

They will be a fun team to follow once they get to Williamsport.

 

Fairfield American, Connecticut

The Eastern regional champions looked very strong in their run to the Little League World Series.

Fairfield American went 6-0 in the round-robin regional tournament and obliterated their opponents by a combined score of 60-8.

That's an impressive total, and teams will have a tough time matching Connecticut’s firepower in the 16-team bracket.

This is also the second time in three seasons this team from Connecticut made it to Williamsport, so the kids on the team have experience from watching their friends partake in 2010.

Watch out for Fairfield American to make some noise in nearby Pennsylvania.

 

Japan

Baseball is America's pastime, but Japan is a pretty big fan of the sport as well.

Japanese players like Ichiro and Yu Darvish have made a sizable impact in the MLB, and Japan has had similar success in the Little League World Series.

The Japanese often come out of the World side of the bracket to reach the finals, and they have won six Little League World Series championships in their history.

That's not even including last season, when the favored Japanese team was upset by California in the final.

Japan will kick off the tournament in its opening match against the Caribbean, and it wouldn't be surprising at all to see them make another deep run.

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