Everybody's favorite showcase of preteen baseball is back for another go-around, as the 2012 Little League World Series is set to kick off from Williamsport, Pennsylvania on Thursday, August 16.
The LLWS has become something of a national phenomenon, with people huddling around their television screens all across the country to witness the world's brightest young baseball talents attain glory or suffer heartbreak.
There will be 16 teams batting for the crown of "Best Little League Team in the World," a title that will be awarded on Sunday, August 26.
Eight teams from the United States and eight teams from international play will treat us to 11 jam-packed days of baseball.
You don't want to miss any of it, so here are previews for each of Thursday's opening games.
Game 1: Japan vs. Caribbean, 1 p.m. ET on ESPN
Tokyo Kitasuna LL will travel thousands of miles to Williamsport in hopes of finishing atop the competition at the 2012 LLWS.
The boys from Tokyo are definitely going to bring the bats to Pennsylvania—you can count on that.
In four games at the Japan regional tournament, Tokyo Kitasuna wrapped off a whopping 43 runs against some pretty staunch competition. They can pitch too, as the pitching staff allowed just six runs in those four games.
Curacao will be representing the Caribbean nations at Williamsport this year. There is clearly a huge talent gap between this Pariba team and the rest of the Caribbean competition, as they outscored opponents 65-7 in six games.
Expect a high-scoring game to kick off the 2012 LLWS.
Game 2: Northern California (West) vs. Connecticut (New England), 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2
The Northern California club wasn't as dominant as you would expect a regional champion to be, posting just a plus-16 run differential through six games.
However, we've seen just how good these California teams can be, as the boys from Petaluma will be looking to become the second consecutive LLWS champion from California after Huntington Beach beat Japan last year.
Fairfield American, the team representing the New England region out of Connecticut, showed that it can win all different types of games during regional play.
There was a 1-0 win, a 17-1 win, a 9-2 win and a 4-3 win, among others. This team can hit, pitch and field, so watch out for it in the tournament.
Game 3: Europe vs. Asia-Pacific, 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Germany-based American team KMC American will travel across the pond to Williamsport in hopes of taking the LLWS crown back to Europe.
It scored 90 runs in eight games, so don't be surprised if we see a couple of barn-burners from this squad.
Chinese Taipei, a staple in the LLWS, will be returning yet again in 2012. Kuei-Shan LL reached double-digits in all but two regional games.
Pitchers allowed just six runs in as many games, dominating the competition in pool play, the semifinals and the championship games.
Game 4: Nebraska (Midwest) vs. Tennessee (Southeast), 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
The team from Kearney, Nebraska didn't have much trouble moving on from the Midwest region.
Which of these games are you most looking forward to watching?
However, the games in the latter stages of the tournament were a bit closer than the ones toward the beginning. Scores of 15-2 and 14-3 turned to 7-4 and 5-3 as the competition progressed, so the kids from Kearney need to turn it up in Williamsport.
The Southeast region representative, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, actually lost a game during pool play to Great Falls, Virginia.
Other than that, it was smooth sailing leading up to the regional championship where Goodlettsville shut out Warner Robbins, Georgia, 1-0.