Tuesday, August 29, 2006

So, What Do We Do Now?

I started this blog way back in late March as my 12-year-old son began playing on his first and only major Little League baseball team. Because we have family living all over I thought it might be fun to chronicle his season online and share why we were never home in the Spring and Summer. I was proud of him and spent time myself as a Little League softball player, coach and umpire, so I felt a connection to the "experience." My husband was one of the coaches and all was right with the world.

I realized I knew way too much about Little League -- lots of useless knowledge about weekly pitching limits and umpire mechanics and the infield fly rule. Somehow, I hadn't needed to use this stuff all these years. Was it the company I kept? :)

Now, the summer has turned to Back-to-School. "Sleeping-Bag Season" (all those sleepovers) turns to "Mayonnaise Season" (all those parties and dips) and away we go. Blink and it's Halloween.

As I run into people at school and they ask "how was your summer?" I smile and say "great. Followed baseball and softball, and learned a lot about my son. It was perfect!"


A Few Quickies:
  • heard there might be an event this weekend to celebrate Murrayhill's trip to the Little League World Series...something about Alpenrose? shoot me an email at cmatsuo@aol.com if you have any info.

  • if you are interested, most local leagues run a Fall Ball program -- it is more casual and more fun, I think, for the kids to play with less stress. contact your local LL or Baseball/Softball Association.

  • I regularly encounter kids who do not own mitts, balls or bats. please consider donating any used equpment to "Pitch In For Baseball" (link is to the left) or simply handing it down to the kindergartener in the neighborhood.

Before it gets too wet and cold, go outside and play catch with your son or daughter.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

LL World Series: Jump On Board

Join me on the Murrayhill LL bandwagon, won't you? :0)

While my son prepares for his first football jamboree this afternoon by watching ESPN's "High School Football Classic," I am trying to get my house chores done so we can watch Murrayhill LL play in for the U.S. Championship today in the Little League World Series. The game will be televised live on ABC at 12:30 (Pacific time). MHLL will take on the team from Columbus, Georgia, representing the Southeast.

It's hard not to root for the local kids and think about what an incredible summer they are having as they travel around Oregon, California, and finally, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the Little League headquarters, the "Disneyland" of baseball.

Our local 9-10 Baseball All-Stars from SunCreek LL advanced to the State Tournament in Pendleton and created amazing memories traveling just three hours from home! I cannot even imagine traveling three states and playing baseball and eating out and staying in hotels and being with your best buddies for two months straight!

Oregonian columnist Steve Duin has a nice feature this morning as the MHLL manager Jeff Keller describes how each game has become a chapter in the book they are writing this summer. Another article today talks about the attention the team is getting and all of the northwest folks who are sending their best wishes. I'm sure any Google search will give you lots to read about MHLL. But you won't find hype on their own website. Nope. This is just another game listed among the results of all their post-season teams. In fact, you kind of have to hunt through to find the team that the world is talking about this morning.

OK, gotta run. School starts in just over one week and I'm still thinking and talking baseball...I need to switch over the fall (football, Back-to-School, etc.). Maybe I'll go put away the 4th of July decorations before the game starts...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Baseball in Oregon

There have been several mentions during ESPN's coverage of Murrayhill in the Little League World Series of Oregon State University winning the 2006 College World Series. In fact, two members of the OSU team played for Murrayhill LL and six others played on other District 4 teams (according to Gary Rowell, DA for Oregon District 4):

Darwin Barney, Rob Summers (Murrayhill LL)
Dallas Buck, Derek Engelke (Newberg LL)
Cory Ellis (SunCreek LL)
Mark Grbavac (Tualatin LL, now known as Southwest Portland LL)
Greg Laybourn (Raleigh Hills LL)
Michael Stutes (Lake Oswego LL)

I wonder how they would compare their CWS experience to MHLL's experience at the LLWS?

The OSU Beavers put Oregon baseball in the news at the beginning of summer and the boys of Murrayhill LL in Beaverton are carrying it through until school starts!

Friday, August 18, 2006

LL Softball WS: OK, Some More "Final" Thoughts

I have been following hometown Murrayhill LL playing in the 2006 Little League World Series and thinking about how lucky we are to host the LL Softball World Series right here in Oregon District 4. What an opportunity to share our lovely area and our wonderful volunteer spirit with kids/families from all over the world.

This time of year, the internet lights up with discussions of the over-commercialization of youth sports, how parents have ruined everything, the equipment and the showboating, the overworked pitchers, "I won't watch the games on TV,"... fine. Discussing our children, and discussing other people's children are ranked #1 and #2 in the list of "most emotional and outside of any rational thought" so it sometimes difficult to put it into perspective. We cannot help but bring our experiences into any story about youth sports.

Little League seems to very accurately reflect our American culture, like it or not. We go through our lives with challenges and rewards, peaks and valleys. Millions of kids play youth sports and are guided by caring adults that don't receive any publicity, but nonetheless make an impact on our future by providing a caring, safe environment for them to play, learn, grow, hang out, laugh.

I am proud to be a supporter of Little League and other youth sports programs. It is far greater a challenge to stay involved in ANY program to help make it better than to stay home and deny a child an opportunity.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

LLSoftball World Series: Final Thoughts

Congratulations to all the teams who made the trip to Oregon to compete in the 2006 Little League Softball World Series:

Team Central: Mattawan LL, Michigan, USA (this year's champion)
Team East: Pequannnock LL, New Jersey, USA (this year's runner-up)
Team Canada: Layritz LL, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Team Latin America: Soraida Juliana LL, Willemstad, Curacao
Team Oregon/District 4 (Host): Cedar Mill LL, Beaverton, Oregon, USA
Team Southwest: Elgin LL, Texas, USA
Team Asia-Pacific: ILLAM Central LL, Makita City, Philippines
Team EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa): Ramstein American LL, Germany
Team South: Morristown American/National LL, Tennessee, USA
Team West: Gilroy LL, California, USA

Here is some of the media coverage of Mattawan LL's 6-2 win:

Kalamazoo Gazette: "If that's the way kids in Michigan are, then Michigan must be one great state."

Mattawan's Parade Plan

eTeamz coverage

local Oregonian

May I add:

1) The title game last evening on ESPN2 was as well-played as any I have witnessed up at Alpenrose. The level of competitive softball has risen in Little League and the players and spectators are the winners! I expect this trend to continue and look forward to more girls working hard year-round to join us in Portland in the coming years.

2) Youth sports in general, and Little League specifically, are often criticized for all that goes wrong and so rarely is the other side of the story told: it is fun, you meet great people, you make memories of a lifetime... There are few headlines exclaiming "Families Stay In Touch For Years After Playing Together On Softball Team," or "Host Families Make Lifelong Friends," or "Player from Germany: I'm Having a Great Time!" :)

3) The 2006 Little League Softball World Series was a great tournament and the many volunteers should be proud, albeit tired, as they head home and back to work today. Congratulations on a FANTASTIC event! These folks no longer have children playing Little League -- they do it for the smiles on the players' faces as they see Alpenrose for the first time and because of their committment to the community.

4) If you are interested in playing Little League, contact your local district representative and find out which league your community resides in. I would especially like to see more urban areas represented! If you need help with contact information, please email me: cmatsuo@aol.com

5) Please don't email me and tell how much better PONY and ASA softball are compared to LL. This is like comparing apples to oranges. All softball programs have their place and their purpose in our wonderful country :) I played both LL and ASA. LL remains a personal favorite because I believe in Mandatory Play and the I love the community focus -- when your league is on your jersey, it means something. I am most pleased when I see neighborhood kids playing ball at their neighborhood school! I believe it serves our cities and counties well to be involved in something local, whatever it is, and this flows over into your local schools, churches, Scouts and keeps us connected. (I will step down off my soapbox now...)

Thanks for reading this blog. It will remain up throughout the year to cover Little League baseball and softball.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

LLSBWS: Champs!

The representatives of the Central region, Mattawan LL, Michigan are the 2006 Little League Softball World Series champion! Congrats to the players, coaches and families on playing hard all summer and winning tonight's game, 6-2, over the East team, Pequannock LL, New Jersey.

LLSBWS: Down to Two

Congratulations to the winners of yesterday's semi-final games in the 2006 Little League Softball World Series. The championship game will be tonight, 6:30 (Pacific time), broadcast live on ESPN2, featuring two teams who are undefeated in the tournament and both wearing shades of green:

East (Pequannock LL, New Jersey) vs. Central (Mattawan LL, Michigan)

It was great to see Alpenrose packed last night by the second game (as more and more people were getting off work and heading to the ballpark) with an enthusiastic and appreciative crowd. I eyed sweatshirts and t-shirts from Portland-area Little League programs, ASA Softball programs, and even the Oregon high school state champs, Jesuit Crusaders! It was great to see support for girls' softball.

In the first game, East pitcher Dana Nielsen threw a 4-hitter and added an RBI to help her team beat South (Morristown LL, Tennessee) 5-1.

In the second semi-final game, Central pitcher Lauren Gevaart scored one of two runs for her team as she also threw a four-hitter to outlast Southwest (Elgin LL, Texas) 2-0.

It's a little cloudy in the Portland area right now, but hopefully it will clear by gametime. As the Alpenrose complex prepares to host its last games, it will be the final time to crank out ice cream cones and trade pins. If you are free tonight, drive over to Shattuck Road and bring the kids and some change for sno-cones. You'll get to watch some great softball and feel the excitement of a championship game, catch a glimpse (and probably an autograph) of two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Michele Smith, wander around and get a taste of what it takes to telecast a live ESPN event, and parking/admission are free.

LLSBWS: More Scenes from the Semi's

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

LLSBWS: Scenes from the Semi's

Some of the pre-game stuff...

LLSoftball WS: Big Day!

The teams from the Little League Softball World Series finished up Pool Play yesterday then headed to Portland's PGE Park to enjoy the Beavers win over Tacoma, 8-3, in AAA Pacific Coast League action. The Beavers are affiliated with the San Diego Padres and Tacoma is associated with the Seattle Mariners. They all paraded on the ballfield in their WS uniforms and participated in some of the promotions.

This morning, the All-Star game will take place at 10am, then ESPN2 will televise the semi-final games in the afternoon. The All-Star game allows players from the eliminated teams to compete in a fun event (no managers!) and girls who have received only minimum playing time during the tournament are starters.

Media Wrap-Up

"That's been the best part...I've seriously met people from halfway across the world that I never knew even existed. It'll be friendships for a long time."

Elgin Courier

Daily Record (Morris County, New Jersey)

Citizen Tribune of Morristown, Tennessee

Mattawan LL in the Kalamazoo Gazette

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Table is Set for ESPN

Pool Play for the 2006 Little League Softball World Series has concluded and the Semi-Finals are set:

Game 1, 4pm (Pacific time), Tuesday, August 15, LIVE on ESPN2

East (Pequannock LL, New Jersey) vs. South (Morristown Amer/Nat LL, Tennessee)

Game 2, 6:30pm (Pacific time), Tuesday, August 15, LIVE on ESPN2

Central (Mattawan LL, Michigan) vs. Southwest (Elgin LL, Texas)

The winners will meet in the Championship game on Wednesday, 6:30pm (Pacific time) on ESPN2.

Today's Games:

Game#17 South over Asia-Pacific, 6-5

Game#18 Southwest over Latin America, 10-0

Game#19 Host/Dist. 4 over Canada, 9-7

Game#20 Central over West, 1-0

Sunday, August 13, 2006

LLSoftball World Series: August 13, 2006

Sunday's matchups:

Game#13: Southwest over Canada, 10-0

Game#14: South over EMEA, 20-2

Game#15: East over Host/Dist4, 7-4

Game#16: Central over Asia-Pacific, 3-0

Pool A Standings as of 8/13:

East 4-0
Southwest 2-1
Latin America 1-2
Host/District 4 1-2
Canada 0-3

Pool B Standings:
Central 3-0
South 2-1
West 2-1
Asia-Pacific 1-2
EMEA 0-4

Pool Play concludes tomorrow. Semi-Final 1 will take place at 4pm (Pacific time) with Pool A winner vs. Pool B #2, live on ESPN2. Semi-Final 2 will follow at 6:30pm (Pacific time) with Pool B winner vs. Pool A #2, live on ESPN2. The Championship game will take place at 6:30pm (Pacific time) LIVE ON ESPN2.

Schedule for Monday, 8/14:

Game#17: South (Morristown American National LL, Tennessee) vs. Asia-Pacific (ILLAM Central LL, Makita City, Philippines)

Game#18: Southwest (Elgin LL, Texas) vs. Latin America (Soraida Juliana LL, Willemstad, Curacao)

Game#19: Oregon/District 4 (Cedar Mill LL, Beaverton) vs. Canada (Layritz LL, Victoria, BC)

Game#20: Central (Mattawan LL, Michigan) vs. West (Gilroy LL, California)

Following the final game of the day, the girls, coaches, fans and host families will head out to the Portland Beavers game, the AAA affiliate of the San Diego Padres!

LL Softball World Series: Saturday Tidbits

Results from the Little League Softball World Series at Alpenrose Dairy, Portland, Oregon, for Saturday, August 12, 2006:

  • Game#9: East (Pequannock LL, New Jersey) beat Southwest (Elgin LL, Texas), 13-7
  • Game#10: West (Gilroy LL, California) beat EMEA (Ramstein American LL, Germany), 14-0
  • Game#11: Latin America (Soraida Juliana LL, Willemstad, Curacao) beat Canada (Layritz LL, Victoria, BC), 6-3
  • Game#12: Central (Mattawan LL, Michigan) beat South (Morristown American National LL, Tennessee), 4-0

Pool A Standings: (after three days of play)

East 3-0

Southwest 1-1

Latin America 1-2

Host/District 4 1-1

Canada 0-2

Pool B Standings:

Central 2-0

South 1-1

West 2-1

Asia Pacific 1-1

EMEA 0-3

Wrapup of Media Coverage:

Oregonian today: "Nielsen Led East"

Elgin Courier

Gilroy Dispatch

Daily Record in New Jersey and home LL coverage for Pequannock

Kalamazoo Gazette (Mattawan LL, MI) on Saturday and today

Morristown Citizen Tribune

Saturday, August 12, 2006

LLSoftball World Series: So Many Links!

Yesterday morning, I opened the newspaper and the front page of the Sports section, featured TWO top stories of interest: the new women's soccer season at University of Portland (2005 NATIONAL CHAMPS) and "South Pitcher Throws a Perfect Game." Squeezed in between was the Oregonian's coverage of Oregon State football and a column on the NBA Trailblazers. Thank you very much -- this is a sign that women's and girls' sports are popular, legitimate and part of our culture.

In fact, coverage in the Oregonian (Oregon's major daily newspaper) and our local Beaverton Valley Times has been excellent. This morning, there were two articles in the Oregonian: about Friday's matchups and about the LL Softball World Series experience, specifically regarding the team from the Philippines, staying with host families and being in a different culture.

Very soon, ESPN trucks will begin to roll in and set up for coverage of Tuesday's Semi-Finals (4pm and 6:30pm, Pacific time) and the Championship game on Wednesday at 6:30pm.

But today, the games continue with Game#9 Southwest (Elgin LL, Texas) vs. East (Pequannock LL, New Jersey), Game#10 West (Gilroy LL, California) vs. EMEA (Ramstein American LL, Germany), Game #11 Canada (Layritz LL, Victoria, BC) vs. Latin America (Soraida Juliana LL, Willemstad, Curacao), and Game#12 Central (Mattawan LL, Michigan) vs. South (Morristown American National LL, Tennessee).

Please click on the "Game#" highlights above and click on "Box Scores" for LIVE scoring and photos from the games. Volunteers are running around the complex to bring you these updates and know how hard it must be for those family and friends who are following their teams from home.

Right after today's final game, the RE/MAX Home Run Derby will take center stage on the Alpenrose main diamond. Like the DeMarini Skills Challenge, this is a fun event to add memories and good times to the scrapbooks for these players. The girls, siblings, coaches and local celebrities will take their hacks at pitches from a cow! Yes, the LLSBWS mascots Alpen and Rose will keep the lobs coming in so everyone gets a chance to hit a homerun. And all proceeds benefit the LLSBWS and go towards the expenses of running this tournament.

So, if you're in Portland, and not at the North Plains Garlic Festival (where my husband is serving as the parade judge), or in between heading to the Bite of Oregon or the Portland Beavers game, stop by and enjoy some free, family entertainment at Alpenrose. Will two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Michele Smith make an appearance again today and smash one over the fence? I hope so -- I am heading out there to find out myself :)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Let the Games Begin

Following a day when fear and anger once again gripped the world, it was a pleasure to spend the evening at the Little League Softball World Series, enjoying a small reminder that families all over the world are more alike than different. Where a ballfield hosts 11-13 year old girls playing softball, singing Happy Birthday to Alyssa Wilkins of the Southwest team (Elgin LL, Texas) before the game, and the great-granddaughter of Alpenrose's founder performs the National Anthem, there is hope.

Game#1 started the tournament in exciting fashion as the East (Pequannock LL, New Jersey) needed extra innings to defeat Latin America (Soraida Juliana LL, Willemstad, Curacao) 10-4.

Mallory Black, the South (Morristown American-National LL, Tennessee) starter, struck out ten and pitched a perfect game to lead her team to a 9-0 win over West (Gilroy LL, California) in Game#2.

EMEA (Ramstein American LL, Germany) lost to Asia-Pacific (ILLAM Central LL, Makita City, Philippines) in Game#3, 10-4.

And in the nightcap, hometown Host/Oregon District 4 (Cedar Mill LL, Beaverton, Oregon) managed only two hits against Southwest (Elgin LL, Texas) losing 9-1 in Game#4.

Tonight, packed bleachers, barbequed hot dogs, pin trading, bright green snow cones and "Hey, how is it going? How'd you guys do today?" "We did great, but we didn't win" paint the big picture of unity and sportsmanship in our troubled world.

As I watch dozens of LL Softball World Series Volunteers race around the tournament complex attending to the needs of the players, the crowds, the media, I remember why I am spectator, too. Not because I have a daughter playing in the games (maybe a niece or two some day!), not because my husband is coaching or umpiring, but because I am moved to tears by the joy and comraderie of the kids, coaches and families. That comraderie is our future.

LL Softball World Series: DeMarini Skills Challenge

Following the Opening Ceremonies of the Little League Softball World Series at Alpenrose Dairy in Portland, Oregon, members of each team participated in the Skills Challenge, sponsored by DeMarini. And thanks to DeMarini, each of the teams received two new bats AND gorgeous helmets for each player that match their regional uniform!

The tournament was also featured on the front page of the Oregonian's Sports section this morning. The games begin today at 2pm with Pool Play action and the East (Pequannock, New Jersey) team taking on the team from Latin America (Willemstad, Curacao).

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

LL Softball World Series: Opening Day

Gaggles of girl ballplayers and families, friends and fans descended on Alpenrose Dairy this afternoon to begin the weeklong celebration of Little League Softball. Opening Ceremonies were highlighted by the singing of national anthems by the teams from Canada, the Philippines, and Curacao, and our national anthem performed by the great granddaughter of Alpenrose founder, Carl Cadonau. Following the Ceremonies, the teams were invited to "Dairyville" for some Baskin Robbins ice cream (produced by Alpenrose) while tournament volunteers set up the Skills Challenge, sponsored by DeMarini/Wilson.

More on Alpenrose

Here are some more quick links about Alpenrose:
  • Here is the eTeamz article I did talking about the technical set-up for the Little League Softball World Series. Volunteers and community businesses help make a wonderful experience for the girls and allow for communications via phone, internet, and from the scorebooks of each game.

  • Here are some great photos of the teams as they arrived at Alpenrose yesterday (pictures courtesy of Tim Jackson, thanks dad!). The teams come by limo to get their uniforms, see the ballfield, and meet their housing families. While in Portland, the players stay with local families who provide a home, meals and transportation to the games and practices. Lifelong friendships are developed over the week...I have personally seen tears at the Closing Ceremonies when host families must say Goodbye to their girls.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Is this heaven?

no, it's Alpenrose!

In the movie "Field of Dreams," the correct answer is "No, it's Iowa." But beginning tomorrow with Opening Ceremonies and the DeMarini Skills Challenge, the Little League Softball World Series kicks off at arguably one of the best ballfields in the country. It may not be Disney's Wide World of Sports or Williamsport, Pennsylvania, but is a beautiful setting and has remained "retro" cool all these years. Many of us remember when the scoreboard was hand-operated and when we saw the first home run over the fence (around 1977, a kid from Raleigh Hills LL). But mostly we remember our first ballgame there and hopefully it was also "under the lights."

During the LL Softball World Series, Athletic Field Design takes over and maintains the grass and field so it is a MLB-like experience for the girls. The turf is green and lush with fresh sod, as the entire infield was skinned after District baseball to bring in new grass. This article gives you a good idea of what goes into getting the fields prepared for the tournament. Mike and his crew do an amazing job.

Alpenrose is still a working dairy, where contracted milkmen deliver fresh milk and wonderful Baskin Robbins ice cream is made. You can sit in the bleachers and get a big cup of it for $1.50 and watch LL for free. The dairy is located at 6149 SW Shattuck Road, Portland, 97221. Please come by during the next week to enjoy some simple pleasures with your family. And if you see any members of the Cadonau family, please tell them "THANKS" for keeping this kid-oriented destination a wonderful place for Portland families. For some of us, it truly is heaven on earth.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Pondering Pendleton...

  • Here's a "souvenir" from the SunCreek LL 9/10 All-Stars -- District 4 Champs and State Champs! (photo courtesy of Peter Hisey)

The team, and their families and fans, enjoyed a week in Pendleton, Oregon, making their way through the State Tournament bracket and the water park, pizza parlour, golf course, laundromat, museum, hotel swimming pool, and bottles of water. It was a perfect vacation. :)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Little League Lawn

Is your home suffering from Little League Lawn? This time of year, a drive around neighborhoods all over America will reveal the afflication affecting so many front yards... LL Lawn is characterized by brown spots from lack of watering. When a LLer begins the postseason run in mid-June, many of life's chores get put on hold. Perhaps only the biggies are taken care of: mortgage, car payment, cases of Gatorade. The house takes a backseat and right around now, it really begins to show. I never really got the pots on the front porch planted with beautiful annuals. The lawn gets watered only when we are home for a few hours. It hasn't been edged since Spring Break.

Teams at the LL Regionals for Baseball and Softball have been on the road for weeks. Even if they didn't have to travel far, they have been playing almost every night, practicing in between, and preparing for games and probably just getting "the biggies" done. Working parents are sneaking peeks at Unpage.com during the day, an awesome website that follows all of the LL tournaments across the nation. In fact, if you click over to Unpage right now, I guarantee you will spend an hour dinking around, looking for your local kids, finding out how the team did where you grew up, your nephew's team in Ohio, and maybe if there is a game going on where you might be travelling in the next few weeks. Side note: My family has sat in bleachers in Redding, CA, Medford, OR, and other I-5 stopovers between Portland and San Francisco when we see a game going on and want to check it out.

I know some of you are thinking: "she needs to get a life." Well, you are right :) So, we are taking off for the coast this afternoon and will share a cabin in Lincoln City with NEIGHBORS WHO DON'T DO LITTLE LEAGUE. I might not even take my laptop... I hope I can again find my way back to everyday conversations like the price of gasoline, the weather, Back-to-School, and upcoming soccer and football seasons.

Enjoy the weekend. After you mow your lawn, you might want to check out and cheer on teams at the LL Softball West Regional in Vancouver, WA (looks like a great match-up Friday when OR and WA meet) or maybe the Junior LL Baseball West Regional at the THPRD Rec Center on Walker Road in Beaverton. These are the 13-14 year olds playing on the big diamond. We really enjoyed watching this style of baseball and can't wait to get playing it! All of these tournaments, as well as all of the World Series' have free admission, which is LL policy. How can you beat that?

Monday, John heads back to work to re-open his school for the new academic year and Jack starts football camp. But don't worry, I'll still be your connection to LL right on through to the Big Show in Williamsport, with an extended and extensive stop at the LL Softball World Series in Portland beginning August 9.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Summertime at the Ball Parks

We are very fortunate to work in the "education industry." John has the month of July off from his job as principal of North Plains School and I am home the same time as the kids from Rock Creek School. So we very much enjoyed the freedom to travel and be spectators for tons of Little League Baseball and Softball this summer. We coached, watched and cheered on teams in 9/10 Baseball Honors and All-Stars, 11 Year Old All-Stars, 11/12 Honors and All-Stars, and 9/10 Softball. We spent hours at Westlake Park in Lake Oswego, West Union fields in Hillsboro, Loiland Field in Adams, Oregon, (12 miles northeast of Pendleton) and of course, Alpenrose Dairy, the most beautiful LL facility in the country (just my opinion :). And it has been a blast.

Now comes the stretch run for the various LL tournaments around the world, as teams begin to qualify for the different World Series tournaments played around the country. The most famous, of course, takes place in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and all of its games are broadcast live on ESPN. But did you know that the equivalent softball tournament, the Little League Softball World Series, takes place at Alpenrose? And that the semi-final and championship games are also broadcast live on ESPN?

I hope you'll take a break from soccer, football and back-to-school activities to take your kids out to this tournament. You will get a chance to see a true WORLD Series, as teams from all over the world will call Portland home for a week. Teams will come in from all over the country and Canada, with their families, to play softball and visit Multnomah Falls, Cannon Beach, the Rose Gardens, and Nike. It is truly an amazing experience for an 11/12 year old girl. And, this tournament provides the rare opportunity for ESPN to broadcast live from the Rose City! Have you ever wondered what goes into such an endeavor? Do you have kids interested in journalism or broadcasting? Want to see the equipment up close and meet on-air commentators? Alpenrose is the place, August 10-16.

I am honored to be blogging about Little League Baseball and Softball on a national site for the folks at eTeamz. Please take a moment to bookmark this page: LL World Series. My first entry is up this morning, and it has been a lot of fun. It will cover all the various tournaments in the next few weeks from different viewpoints around the country.

Thank you for all your kind comments and support, and keep 'em coming! I love to hear what you think...