The Little League World Series 2009 starts tomorrow. Here are the teams:
Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy, champion of the Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) Region. An eight-team tournament was held in Kutno, Poland. Italy, which will make its first-ever appearance in Taylor, defeated a U.S. Air Force team based in Stuttgart, Germany, in the finals, 6-5.
· Oranjestad, Aruba, champion of the Latin America Region. In its Taylor debut, Aruba will attempt to succeed last year’s Latin America representative from Willemstad, Curacao, in the Netherlands Antilles as the world champion of Junior League baseball. Aruba emerged from a nine-nation tournament in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. In the finale, Aruba defeated the Mexican national champs from Mexicala, 9-8.
· Saipan of the Northern Mariana Islands, champion of the Asia-Pacific Region. Team Saipan won a five-nation tournament held in Jakarta, Indonesia, defeating Guam in the finals, 10-9. Saipan played in Taylor five straight years, from 2001 to 2005.
· Yabucoa, the national champion of Puerto Rico. Teams from Yabucoa have played in Taylor six times. One resulted in a world championship in 1990. This will mark the 21st appearance in the JLWS by a Puerto Rican national champion.
· Coquitlam, British Columbia, the national champion of Canada. The six-team tournament concluded Wednesday night in Langley, British Columbia, as Coquitlam stunned Medicine Hat, Alberta, 4-3. It will be Coquitlam’s second appearance in a row and third overall; the first year was 1999.
Scottsdale, Arizona, the champion of the USA Western Regional Tournament. The Arizona state champions defeated last year’s World Series runner-up, Hilo, Hawaii, 3-0, to end a 12-team tournament in Aliso Viejo, California. No team from Arizona has played in Taylor since 1992, when Tucson represented the West.
· Albuquerque, New Mexico, the USA Southwestern Regional champion. Albuquerque will become the first team from New Mexico to play in Taylor after defeating Texas West state champion Corpus Christi, 22-4. The game ended an eight-team tournament in Midland, Texas.
· Easley, South Carolina, the USA Southeast Regional champion. In an all-Carolina final, Easley defeated Mount Airy, North Carolina, 6-4. It’s the second time in three years that the South Carolina state champion will play in Taylor. The Southeast Region, formerly known as the South Region in the Junior League, featured eight state champs.
· Middlebury, Indiana, the USA Central Regional champion. The Indiana state champion emerged from an 11-team tournament in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In the finals on Thursday, Middlebury defeated the Iowa state champs from Urbandale, 10-3. This will be the 12th time a team from Indiana plays in the JLWS, but the firs time for Middlebury. The Michigan state champion, Midland, played in the Central Regional, going 2-2 in pool play.
· Jackson, New Jersey, the USA Eastern Regional champion. The 10-team tournament came down to an all-New Jersey final between state champion Jackson and host team Freehold Township, with Jackson winning on Thursday, 6-1. Jackson went 5-0, with other wins coming over the state champs of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland and Pennsylvania. This is the 10th time a New Jersey team will play in Taylor, but the first time for Jackson.
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