As the summer begins to wind down, one of the most captivating sporting events of the summer is getting underway.
The 2014 Little League World Series is officially down to 16 teams in the double-elimination tournament. While they may be playing at a much younger age than the top athletes in the world, the teams will captivate astute baseball fans throughout August.
Though a United States team last won the competition in 2011, several worthy teams have made the final bracket. But with a club from Japan winning three of the last four LLWS titles, the Tokyo team comes in as one of the teams to watch yet again.
Before the opening round gets underway, here's a look at the viewing info and breakdown for the 2014 Little League World Series.
|2014 Little League World Series Opening-Round Schedule|
|Date||Time (ET)||Game||Matchup||TV Info||Live Stream|
|Thu., Aug. 14||1 p.m.||1||Asia-Pacific vs. Europe-Africa||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Thu., Aug. 14||3 pm.||2||Great Lakes vs. Northwest||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Thu., Aug. 14||5 p.m.||3||Caribbean vs. Australia||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Thu., Aug. 14||7 p.m.||4||Midwest vs. West||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Fri., Aug. 15||1 p.m.||5||Mexico vs. Canada||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Fri., Aug. 15||3 p.m.||6||Mid-Atlantic vs. Southeast||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Fri., Aug. 15||5 p.m.||7||Latin America vs. Japan||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Fri., Aug. 15||8 p.m.||8||Southwest vs. New England||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sat., Aug. 16||12 p.m.||9||Game 1 Loser vs. Game 3 Loser||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sat., Aug. 16||2 p.m.||10||Game 2 Loser vs. Game 4 Loser||ABC||WatchESPN|
|Sat., Aug. 16||5 p.m.||11||Game 5 Loser vs. Game 7 Loser||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Sat., Aug. 16||7 p.m.||12||Game 6 Loser vs. Game 8 Loser||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sun., Aug. 17||12 p.m.||13||Game 1 Winner vs. Game 3 Winner||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sun., Aug. 17||2 p.m.||14||Game 2 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner||ABC||WatchESPN|
|Sun., Aug. 17||5 p.m.||15||Game 5 Winner vs. Game 7 Winner||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sun., Aug. 17||7 p.m.||16||Game 6 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
Breakdown for Little League World Series
Following several rounds of baseball just to make the final bracket, every team in the field is deserving. But over time, stories about the young players will be just as prominent as the play on the diamond.
One early story is that of Mo'Ne Davis, who plays for the Taney Youth Baseball Association. The young player threw a three-hit shutout in the final game before making it to the opening round and pitched a 70 mph fastball.
Following the outstanding performance, even Russell Wilson congratulated the Philadelphia player:
Davis and the Taney club represent the Mid-Atlantic Region and won't be playing until Friday at 3 p.m. ET. Prior to Davis taking the field, another female player named Emma March will be a member of the Canada team facing Mexico.
ESPN Stats & Info points out how uncommon it is to have two girls in the event:
One team that will be an underdog to watch represents the West Region. Without a California team in the bracket this season, Mountain Ridge in Las Vegas will look to uphold the history of the region.
California teams have won seven LLWS championships, which ranks as the most by a U.S. team. The Little League account noted the historic significance for Mountain Ridge:
Outside of the Nevada club, more history was made in this year's field. Great Lakes Region champion Jackie Robinson West became the first all-black team to make the premier event.
The Chicago team's manager Darold Butler spoke about how important the achievement is prior to the start of the tournament, per the Chicago Sun-Times:
You have 13 African-American players, volunteer coaches, and everybody throughout the league trying to do something positive for the city of Chicago. So this is huge. This gives our kids something to strive for, to set goals, and to accomplish. It gives them something to look forward to outside of the negativity.
Longtime baseball analyst Peter Gammons voiced his thoughts on the incredible achievement:
Along with the loaded U.S. bracket, the international bracket will of course bring a bevy of talented young players. Four rounds of double-elimination play separate two teams from an epic clash on Aug. 24 in the championship game.
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