EASLEY—More than 200 16-18 –year-old baseball players and their coaches begin the quest for a championship this week as Easley hosts the Big League World Series for the 12th consecutive year at the JB “Red” Owens Recreation Complex.
The tournament features six US teams, including the host team from the Easley area, as well as five international teams, who have earned spots in the series from around the globe. Below is a look at each of the US teams as well as the team from Canada, which qualified Sunday evening. A profile on the other four international teams in the tournament was included in last Friday’s issue of The Progress.
HOST: Easley has made its mark in the Big League World Series. An automatic qualifier as host of the tournament, Easley has reached at least the semifinal round in eight of the past 11 years, including last year, when they lost 8-5 in the semi-finals to Greenville, SC, which won the Big League World Series last year. Easley has won the championship four times —-2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007. While the host team is an automatic qualifier, Head Coach Gregg Powell said the team does have the disadvantage of not playing any games since they do not play in a district, state or regional tournament. The Easley team includes players from Easley, Wren, Pickens, Daniel, Seneca, Palmetto, TL Hanna and Walhalla high schools. Powell says the greatest strength of the 2012 team is its defense and its ability to run, putting pressure on opposing teams. Easley opens the tournament tonight at 7:30 p.m. against Fort Wayne, IN.
EAST: Cumberland, NJ is making its third consecutive trip to the Big League. Another team from New Jersey advanced to the series in 2008. None of the previous three New Jersey teams have reached the semi-finals or finals of the tournament. The Cumberland, NJ team won all four of its games in the East Regionals, outscoring its opponents 27-12. Cumberland defeated Williamsport, PA 4-1 in the regional championship game. Cumberland opens the tournament Thursday at 7:30 p.m. against Anaheim, CA.
CENTRAL: Fort Wayne, IN is the third Indiana team to reach the Big League World Series since the tournament came to Easley in 2001. Fort Wayne was dominant in the Central Regional Tournament, winning all four of its games and outscoring opponents 30-2. They defeated a team from Michigan 4-1 to advance to Easley. Fort Wayne is led by William Courson-Carr, who is a left-handed pitcher who throws in excess of 90 miles per hour, according to Alan Schaff, media representative for the Big League World Series. Schaff said Courson-Carr was Mr. Baseball in the State of Indiana and has committed to Indiana University. Fort Wayne opens the tournament tonight at 7:30 p.m. against Easley.
SOUTHEAST: Clearwater, FL is the sixth team from Florida to advance to the series in the 12 years it has been in Easley. Florida teams reached the semi-finals of the Big League World Series in 2003 and 2005, but has never won the tournament. The Clearwater team was undefeated in the Southeast Regional Tournament, defeating Greenville, SC team 4-2. Greenville won the Big League World Series last year. Clearwater opens the tournament at 4 p.m. Thursday against Fort Wayne, IN.
SOUTHWEST: Laredo, TX is making its first trip to Easley and only the second team from Texas. Laredo won all three of its games in the Southwest Regional Tournament, outscoring opponents 23-11. Laredo had its closest game of the tournament in the championship, a 6-5 victory over a team from Louisiana. Laredo opens the series at 4 p.m. today against Anaheim, CA.
WEST: Anaheim, CA is the 10th team from California to qualify for the series in the 12 years Easley has hosted the tournament. California teams won the Big League World Series in 2001 and 2006 and reached the championship game four other times and the semi-finals two other times. One of the semi-final teams was a team from Anaheim in 2004. Anaheim advanced to Easley, outscoring opponents 31-3. Anaheim’s only loss came in a 2-0 loss to Hapaa, HI. But the California team avenged that loss, defeating Hawaii 3-1 in the championship game. The Hawaii team was unbeaten before the championship game and had outscored its opponents 39-6. Anaheim opens the tournament at 4 p.m. today against Laredo, TX.
CANADA: Windsor, Ontario was the last of the 11 teams in the field to advance to this year’s Big League World Series, defeating Cape Breton, Nova Scotia 3-1 in the Canadian championship game Sunday night. The Windsor team lost its first game in the Canadian 3-0, the scored a total of 20 runs in the next three games to win the tournament and a berth in Easley. Canada opens the tournament at 7:30 p.m. Thursday against Italy.