COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — For the fourth time in five years, a Rhode Island team is heading to the Little League World Series.
Following a five-run comeback on Friday, Coventry’s Little League team won the New England Regionals Sunday, beating Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
The win earned the team a trip to Williamsport, Pennsylvania to compete on Little League’s biggest stage.
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Rebecca Simon’s son, Tyler, is the team’s shortstop and her husband is the team’s manager. She said the experience has been a whirlwind.
“It has been a wild ride, I don’t think any of us knew what to expect,” Simon said. “The final game, it was 2-2, then all of a sudden we were up and the kids were getting on a bus to go to Williamsport.”
The team left immediately after their 3-2 victory over Pittsfield in the New England Regional Championship.
“On Wednesday, they will have a parade of champions in Williamsport, it’s the opening ceremonies,” Simon explained.
Simon said the team remains focused on their goals, but everyone also wants them to have fun and thoroughly enjoy the experience.
“Hard work is our motto, but really that hard work comes with a lot of relaxation,” Simon explained. “Once that hard work is done, and there’s just the joy, from what we’ve been told, Williamsport is the Disneyland for all baseball players and we want them to appreciate it.”
Meanwhile in Coventry, the community is rallying around the players. Woods Tavern owner Brent Valerien has been involved with the little league for 11 years and said the restaurant has been streaming all of the Coventry team’s games.
“They represent not only Rhode Island and our community, but New England as a whole and hopefully be able to get to that championship game, I know we’ll be rooting all the way for them,” Valerien said.
Valerien said they’re also fundraising for the team by dedicating 10% of sales to the players’ families to help with travel expenses.
“The local businesses have been amazing,” Simon said. “Their support in terms of Wood’s Tavern showing the games when people couldn’t actually get there. The local, just community, coming to these games which were an hour and 40 minutes away. I could not believe the amount of people that showed up.”
The team’s first game will take place Thursday at 7 p.m. against Houston, Texas.