ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Players on the Eastdale Little League Majors All-Star team have spent nearly every day this summer hanging out with their friends on the baseball field. While that is fun in itself, this is the all-important year for them with a chance to go to the Little League World Series.
“This is a huge year for these kids, I don’t want to act like the end goal isn’t the Little League World Series,” said Coach Kevin Hathaway. “As I’ve told them from day one, we’re going to put everything we have into putting them in a position to be successful.”
Eastdale cruised through the district and state tournaments and received a bid to the southwest regional in Waco, Texas as the team to represent New Mexico. This is the last stop before the Little League World Series, and it is a heavy topic of discussion around the team.
They will however be at a slight disadvantage in Waco. While there have not been as many COVID-19 restrictions in place this season, Eastdale is still dealing with the aftermath of the past two years. Many of the teams they will face represent states that had fewer restrictions in previous years and thus have more playing experience than kids from New Mexico.
“I think that it woke us up,” outfielder Langston Leigh said. “We weren’t trying as hard I don’t think. I think we kind of took it for granted.”
Other teams in the field include little leagues from Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Louisiana. While some of these states historically produce a lot of baseball talent, the kids at Eastdale have the mindset that they are just competing against other kids that love baseball just as much as them, and they like their chances of moving on to the next round.
Some members of the team have already begun their travels to Waco, while others will make the trip later in the week. A gofundme campaign has started to help with expenses and give the kids the best experience possible.
Eastdale opens the tournament against Starkville, Mississippi on Thursday, August 4 at 9 a.m. MT. The game will be broadcast on Longhorn Network.