For the third time since 2015, the Bowling Green East 11- and 12-year-old All-Stars have earned a spot in the biggest event of their sport: the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
BG East’s participation in the LLWS might be a common occurrence of late, but the achievement is hardly to be taken for granted. No matter the outcome in Williamsport over the next two weeks, this is a momentous occasion for these boys, their families and the local community.
The Little League World Series has become a late-summer tradition of international interest, with teams and fans traveling from across the globe to Williamsport and with ESPN providing wall-to-wall coverage of the games. Watching local kids compete in such an environment is a source of tremendous pride for all residents of southcentral Kentucky.
BG East punched its ticket to Williamsport by dominating the Great Lakes Regional Tournament in Indianapolis, outscoring its opponents 35-13 in an undefeated run through the bracket. Overall, the state of Kentucky has been a bit of a dynasty since the Great Lakes region was established in 2001: Teams from the commonwealth have won eight Great Lakes titles in those 19 years, doubling the number of the next-best state, Indiana. And half of those eight championships belong to southcentral Kentucky – three by BG East and one by Logan County/Russellville Little League in 2009.
Now, BG East focuses its attention on Williamsport. Based on the strength of its performance to date, this team perhaps should be considered among the favorites to contend for the U.S. – and potentially the world – championships. Lofty ambitions, sure, but ones that are potentially within reach. BG East has pushed deep into the LLWS bracket before, reaching the U.S. semifinals in 2016. And the Great Lakes region produced a LLWS champion in 2002, when Valley Sports of Louisville took the crown in an unbeaten run through the event.
No one knows how this year’s LLWS will unfold once BG East begins its journey at 6 p.m. CDT on Thursday against Coon Rapids Andover American Little League from Minnesota, the winner of the Midwest Regional, in a game televised on ESPN2. But we do know this: Like many in Bowling Green, Warren County and surrounding areas, we will be watching and harboring big dreams for these boys and their families.
Congratulations and good luck, Bowling Green East. We are proud to have you representing this area on the world stage.