SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Little League World Series teams from the West region are notoriously talented.
They’re known for playing the sport all year round – for pitching tough and hitting tougher. The Las Vegas squad representing the region this year is no exception.
Philly’s Taney Dragons, though, aren’t intimidated. They’ll face Las Vegas Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. with a pass to the U.S. championship on the line.
After Sunday’s come-from-behind walk-off victory (see story), they feel they’ve hit their stride.
“There’s nobody that can stop us,” catcher Scott Bandura said. “We hit good pitching. Their bats, I think Mo’ne [Davis]’s going to crack their bats if she has her best game.”
Per Little League rules, pitchers who throw 65 pitches in a game are required to have three full days off between starts. Lucky for Taney, that means their star pitcher (and it-girl of the summer) Davis will be on the mound. She threw in Taney’s first game here, a 4-0 shutout of South Nashville.
The Dragons are going to need her to be on her best game, too. Las Vegas trounced the Jackie Robinson West League All-Stars of the Great Lakes region in a game that ended by mercy rule Sunday afternoon, 13-2 (see story).
As a team, Las Vegas hit five home runs and had put up eight in just the first three innings. The game was called after four.
“It’s going to be exciting,” manager Alex Rice said. “There’s nobody else I would rather go up against them with [than Davis]. We’ve played East Coast tournaments against travel teams from California that have come here, and Mo’ne’s pitched against them, and we’ve done well, we’ve won.
“We’re not intimidated. We absolutely respect that team. They are tremendous, but we’ll be ready on Wednesday to compete.”
The Dragons were there to watch Las Vegas' game, which preceded their Sunday night victory at Lamade Stadium. Rice, who has been busy managing his kids and weathering a storm of media attention, got more of a scouting report on the team from the West than he was able to manage ahead of the game against Texas' Pearland East.
The team will prepare Monday with an afternoon trip to the batting cages, hoping to keep their hitting sharp. No matter which pitcher they face Wednesday night, he will be among the best of the tournament.
“I know their pitching is good and I think that their hitting is good too,” Kai Cummings said. “But they made it here just like we did, so I think that we would be able to beat them just as easily as they’d be able to beat us. It’s really a 50-50 game.”
Added Zion Spearman, “To me, the West team is really good, but if we get our bats clicking it should be a good matchup, and hopefully we’ll come out on top.”
At 2-0 -- and with both wins coming in dramatic fashion -- the Dragons know it's a good possibility they will.