District: done. Sectional: done. State: done. Regional: done.
That’s four tournaments down for the Post Oak Little League All-Star team, which will represent the Southwest Region in the most prized celebration of youth sports — the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
“We told our players at the start that we had six goals, now there are two goals left: win the U.S. championship and the Little League World Series championship,” says Post Oak manager David Rook.
“On the first day of each tournament, they gave pins to the players. It was an honor, and we were happy to get those pins. But we told the players they were only participation trophies. That’s not what we’re playing for. We’re playing for 19 wins and no losses, and if we do that, we will achieve our ultimate goal, the Little League World Series championship banner. We’ve got 14 wins. Five more wins to go.”
Tournament play has been a long, hot, dusty Texas road for the Post Oak team this summer. But when you play Little League in Houston, the road starts with a chilly weekend in January.
“Tryouts were in January and our season started after Presidents Day in February,” Rook says. “We had a couple of scrimmages and our season was 16 games, plus the league playoffs. Some of our guys played three or four games in the playoffs. We had three weeks of practice, and 14 games so far in the tournament. It’s been a total commitment for our players and their families. Everybody has bought into this. The boys have kept fighting and working their butts off.”
A cyclone in Oklahoma
Post Oak punched its airline ticket to South Williamsport with an 8-0 whitewash over Oklahoma August 8 in Waco. The Regional was a show of force by Post Oak, beating Arkansas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma (twice) by a combined 43-5 score.
No wonder Rook and the Post Oak boys will be confident boarding a 7:30 am flight to South Williamsport on August 11. Eight teams from the U.S. and eight international teams will play a double elimination format. Post Oak’s first game is August 16 against the New England Region team. The game will be televised at 6 pm on ESPN2.
Five more wins...
Not to jinx anything, and strictly for DVR programming purposes: The title game between the U.S. champs and the International champs will be played August 26. Whew, just in time. School starts for the Post Oak boys on August 27.
“We have worked at controlling the players’ emotions. Don’t get too high or too low. We have preached unconditional love on this team. We’ve told them that no matter what happens, we love them. Baseball in an interesting game, the ball can take odd bounces,” Rook says.
But you know what he’s thinking: “Five more wins to go.”
A little Little League World Series history: Houston teams have claimed the title twice — in 1950 and 1966. The 1966 team represented Westbury Little League. It has to be noted that both of those championships came before Little League began inviting teams from Asia in 1967.
Since then, teams from Taiwan, Japan, and Korea have won 31 World Series titles. During one stretch from 1969 to 1991, Taiwan won 16 titles. Japan has won five of the last eight years. Other international winners have come from Venezuela (twice), Mexico, and Curacao. U.S. teams have won 16 times. No team from the Southwest Region has won in the “open era.”
That could change ... with five more wins.