With the soft tunes of the United States of America’s national anthem playing over a set of loudspeakers, a group of young American softball players proudly held their hands over their hearts. An international cast of teenage softball players from around the world joined the team from the Kaiserslautern Military Community. They came to compete in the Europe-Middle East-Africa Little League Softball regional Tournament, July 12.
Teams from the KMC, Italy, and the Netherlands are competing in the Senior (ages 15-16) bracket and teams from KMC, Suttgart, Poland, Italy and the Netherlands are competing in the Junior (ages 13-14) bracket to see who will advance to the Softball World Series competitions in the United States in August.
After Brig. Gen. Mark C. Dillon, 86th Airlift Wing commander, and 86th Mission Support Group Commander Col. Michael Manson threw out the ceremonial first pitches, the games began. The KMC American Little League Senior division was up first and defeated the Netherlands Little League softball team 10-4.
“Compared to last year [we] have improved 100 percent. The team came out to play and the score reflected that,” said John Kuykendall, district administrator for U.S. Forces Germany Little League Baseball, shortly after the game.
The KMC American Little League players echoed Mr. Kuykendall’s optimism as well. “We did really good. We were a team considering it was our first time playing as a team. I hope we will be able to win and make it to the World Series,” said Michelle Bonano, 17.
The KMC Little League Junior Division lost to Italy 10-2. Despite the loss, the players were not discouraged. “For most of us it was our first international game, so we were just getting warmed up for the whole tournament,” said Natalie McFadden, 14.
Today the semi-finals will determine who advances to the finals on Saturday and, eventually, to the World Series competitions in August.