Players, coaches, parents and community members are proud to have their hometown team represent, and the excitement is palpable.
The New Albany Eagles won the regional competition in Indianapolis Thursday night, and by Friday morning they were on a bus heading to Williamsport, Pa., for the World Series.
For these middle school boys, this experience has been a dream come true.
The Eagles’ manager and coach Tim Bush said a team from central Ohio has never made it this far so the excitement behind the New Albany Eagles is unmatched. Catcher Hunter Sayre said the team took Friday to celebrate, but then it’s back to the diamond.
“It’s just excitement for everything that’s going to happen there. The experience and just playing on national television with your closest friends,” Sayre said.
It’s been a wild ride for the team. They spent a week in Indianapolis at the regional tournament before heading straight to Williamsport.
“This has been the most anxiety I’ve ever felt. It’s crazy. You get so nervous when your kid’s up at bat. You just want them to do their best and it’s been a wild ride so this is the first time we’ve taken a deep breath,” said Brad Gilmer, who has a son on the team.
Coach Bush said the whole experience has been crazy so his goal has been to keep the kids grounded.
“We’ve been trying as best we can to ignore all the TV cameras. I won’t let them watch the games. They can’t watch themselves at all because I’m like I don’t want you to think of yourselves as celebrities or tv stars or anything right now. You are just baseball players playing on a really nice field,” Bush said.
Luckily, Sayre said he and his teammates aren’t letting the fame get to their heads. They are ready to win this tournament.
“It’s just you know another baseball game that you’re going out to play. I mean yes there are cameras on you, but as soon as the first pitch is thrown you forget about ESPN or whatever and just play your game,” Sayre said.
The team is taking the next week to practice in Williamsport before their first Little League World Series game starts Thursday, Aug. 17th at 7 p.m.
Many restaurants in and around New Albany will have watch parties for the games. All games will also be broadcast nationwide on ESPN.
The team’s progress can be viewed on their Facebook page.