KMC all stars advance to Little League World Series

by Senior Airman Katherine Holt
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

For the third time in four years, the KMC all stars advanced to the Little League World Series, beginning Thursday in Williamsport, Pa.

Previous teams came up short at the competition, but this year, coaches and supporters have high hopes for this 13-man team scheduled to depart Saturday.

“This team is special,” said team manager Eric Vincent. “We aren’t just going to show up; we expect to win some ball games.”

The 14-0 team dressed in red, white and blue won the district championship, the German championship and took the European title last week advancing to this once-in-a-lifetime feat.

“During the tournament we hit 17 home runs, turned five double plays, and only had three errors,” Vincent said. “They walked out onto the field with poise and confidence way above their age.”

Thousands of little league teams around the world compete for the 16 slots in the Little League World Series. Most teams are comprised of young men who have played together for years.

“Keeping a team together is almost impossible when dealing with military dependents,” Vincent said. “When a child’s parent has to PCS, the team loses a player.”

This year, two of the players’ parents have already PCS’d back to the states while their children have stayed back. Just one of the many sacrifices Vincent said the players on this team have made.

“These guys sacrificed their summer,” Vincent said. “Parents and coaches have sacrificed time and money to make it to where we are today. Parents are spending thousands of dollars to give their children the opportunity to do something that most young men will never experience.”

Coaches and parents say this experience makes it all worth it.

KMC Little League’s first opponent is Kuei-Shan Little League from Taoyuan, Chinese Taipei. Historically a tough team to beat, players are showing no signs of anxiety or pressure.

“If they are nervous they aren’t showing it,” said Master Sgt. Betsi Keltz, mother of first baseman Levi Keltz.

Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander, and his wife Cindy gave encouraging words to the players and coaches before their practice Tuesday.

“Congratulations,” Breedlove said. “You have an awful lot to be proud of.”

He encouraged the players to stay focused during the games ahead. With the challenges the team is likely to face, Breedlove encouraged the athletes to keep attacking regardless of the obstacles they may face.

“No matter the course you take to the championship game, the trophy reads the same in the end,” he said.

Mrs. Breedlove knows the dedication it takes to be successful.

“I know the hours you have put in to get here,” she said. “And to the parents doing all the driving, thank you for the hours you have put in as well.”

Breedlove ended the session with one request.

“Tear them up.”

They players also received words from Maj. Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, 3rd Air Force vice commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Craig A. Adams, 3rd AF command chief. Adams also hit some baseballs with the team.