Delaware’s hopes of sending a team to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, rests with the organization that made First State history by being the first to qualify nearly 20 years ago.
Naamans Little League, which draws players from the suburbs north of Wilmington, begins play Sunday in the four-team Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament in Bristol, Connecticut.
Players, coaches and family members were set to depart for Connecticut Friday morning. The team was given a send-off pep rally at the Naamans complex on Mount Lebanon Road off Concord Pike on ;’Thursday night.
Naamans Little League president Michael “Gooch” Donovan told the team every player had a chance to be the hero of the tournament. “The ‘Superman cape’ will fit every single one of you,” Donovan said. “At some point, some time, somebody has to put that cape on. If you want to wear that cape, it’s yours.”
Peter Hudson might be the first to try that cape on. He’ll be the starting pitcher for Naamans when the Delaware champs open the tournament against Maryland titlist Conococheague at 1 p.m. (ESPN+). That follows a 10 a.m. matchup between Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, and Northwest Little League of Washington, D.C.
Play continues with a loser’s bracket elimination game Monday at 5 p.m. (ESPN+), semifinals Tuesday at 7 p.m. (ESPN), another elimination game Thursday at 1 p.m. (ESPN) and Friday’s 3 p.m. final (ESPN).
The winner advances to the recently expanded Little League World Series, which will have 10 U.S. and 10 international teams for its Aug. 17-28 run.
Naamans won the 2022 state baseball championship in the 11- and 12-year-old division, its first since 2006, with a 4-1 victory over Milton.
In 2003, Naamans was the first Delaware team to qualify for the Little League World Series in Williamsport. Newark National became the second in 2013.
Manager Chuck Hudson said he had coached many of the current team members since t-ball and the title run was always something to aim for.
“It’s really a dream come true,” Hudson said. “We always dreamed about this day, to make it happen is a really special moment.”
Have an idea for a compelling local sports story or is there an issue that needs public scrutiny? Contact Kevin Tresolini at email@example.com and follow on Twitter @kevintresolini. Support local journalism by subscribing to delawareonline.com.