Since 1947, South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, has been the site of the Little League World Series, This year's event is set to be one of the most compelling in recent memory, and it begins on August 14.
Elite teams of 11- to 13-year-olds have competed and earned the right to represent their regions in this true exhibition of skill on the diamond.
A total of 18 teams will vie for the title of Little League World Series champions. Pool play will begin the action, and every team will play at least three games.
Eight teams will play in the United States Division, and the other half will begin play in the International Division. The winner of each division will play the other to determine the champion.
If you're interested in catching the action, here are the teams, the schedule for the first two days and viewing information. Click here to see the full brackets and the entire schedule through August 24.
|Asia-Pacific (Seoul) vs. Europe-Africa (South Moravia)||Thursday at 1 p.m. ET||ESPN||Watch ESPN|
|Great Lakes (Jackie Robinson West) vs. Northwest (Lynnwood Pacific)||Thursday at 3 p.m. ET||ESPN||Watch ESPN|
|Caribbean (Miguel Luzunaris) vs. Perth Metro North||Thursday at 5 p.m. ET||ESPN 2||Watch ESPN|
|Midwest (Canyon Lake) vs. West (Mountain Ridge)||Thursday at 7 p.m. ET||ESPN 2||Watch ESPN|
|Mexico (Guadalupe Linda Vista) vs. Canada (South Vancouver)||Friday at 1 p.m. ET||ESPN||Watch ESPN|
|Mid-Atlantic (Taney Youth Baseball Association) vs. (Southeast) South Nashville||Friday at 3 p.m. ET||ESPN||Watch ESPN|
|Latin America (Coquivacoa) vs. Japan (Tokyo Kitasuna)||Friday at 5 p.m. ET||ESPN 2||Watch ESPN|
|Southwest (Pearland East) vs. New England (Cumberland American)||Friday at 7 p.m. ET||ESPN 2||Watch ESPN|
The following two storylines are sure to capture the attention of both casual fans and diehard followers of the event.
Making Their Mark
For the first time since 1983, Jackie Robinson West of Chicago, Illinois, advanced out of the Great Lakes region to compete in the Little League World Series. The all African-American team defeated New Albany, Indiana, 12-7 on Saturday to earn their way to Williamsport.
As Bob Cook of Forbes points out, the fact that an all-black team will play in the Little League World Series is a bigger story today than it was 31 years ago.
[In 2013] only 8.5 percent of the players on the 25-man rosters on opening day were African-American. Several teams, including the World Series champion San Francisco Giants, had none. The highest percentage of African-Americans playing in the majors, according to new research by Mark Armour from the Society of American Baseball Research, was 19 percent in 1986.
The mere presence of the kids from Chicago in the LLWS could positively influence the future diversity of the game. It doesn't matter whether they win or lose.
The most important aspect of their presence is the fact that they are playing a beautiful game with other children. At one point in time, these young men may not have been allowed to play in the LLWS with kids of different ethnicities.
Now, they are free to, but somewhere along the way, the game seemingly lost its luster with young African-Americans. There are several theories about how that happened.
As Cook wrote in another article, "The problem is the system that develops players to get them there, one that effectively costs out most anyone who comes from, say, an underprivileged, single-parent home—a demographic that catches black kids more often than those of any other race or ethnicity in America."
Whatever the case may be, it's a joy seeing kids from every part of America enjoying the country's favorite pastime.
She Can Play
Mo'Ne Davis is a 13-year-old star of the Taney Youth Baseball Association who just so happens to be a young lady. Davis isn't the first female to play in the LLWS, but she is the latest and perhaps the most gifted.
Emma March & Mo'ne Davis are 17th & 18th girls to play in LLWS; only 3rd time 2 girls in same year pic.twitter.com/YUQjD2gC59— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 11, 2014
Davis has drawn raves for her all-around skills. Per Nina Mandell of USA Today, Davis' manager, Alex Rice, has said he feels comfortable playing her at any position.
ICYMI: Play ball like a girl! Mo'Ne Davis throws three-hit shutout to lead Pennsylvania to LLWS. » http://t.co/sLgykKnZg6— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 11, 2014
While Davis can do a little bit of everything, her abilities on the mound have brought her the most attention. With a fastball clocked as high as 70 miles per hour, per Marc Kravitz of PhillyMag.com, Davis has been dominant on the mound.
In the game that launched Taney into the LLWS, Davis tossed a shutout and struck out six.
When Davis takes the field for Taney on Friday against South Nashville, many will be rooting for her to come up with another gem and continue to make her mark in the LLWS.