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Tuesday, 26 August 2014 13:05

Mountain Ridge Little League Returns Home to a Hero's Welcome

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photo courtesy of the City of Las Vegas Government

Youth Sports teams in Las Vegas usually don’t get much fanfare from the local media or the community for their milestones but that wasn’t the case for the 11 to 13 year olds from Mountain Ridge Little League All-Star team. If you haven’t heard about them, then you might as well have been in a cave or in a coma…

They fought an amazing fight in the Little League Baseball World Series and battled odds that had everyone but their hometown discounting them, even as they slaughtered the competition at most-times, going 15-2 through the series and outscoring their opponents 181-38. Those 2 losses didn’t come until the end of the series in the U.S. Championship against Illinois (lost 5-7) and in the Consolation game against Japan (lost 0-5).

They showed the rest of the U.S. (and the world) that Las Vegas kids can play ball and they can compete. In the true Las Vegan fashion of: if you’re going to do it, might as well do it all the way, it’s all or nothing… they fought all the way to the United States Championship game.

They rallied a community to come together in support of a youth team which many of them had no clue who they were. They made history by becoming not only the first Little League team from Las Vegas but from the entire state of Nevada to ever to win the Western Regional Championship and make it to the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, PA.

Not Being Content with just that, they showed the rest of the U.S. (and the world) that Las Vegas kids can play ball and they can compete. In the true Las Vegan fashion of: if you’re going to do it, might as well do it all the way, it’s all or nothing… they fought all the way to the United States Championship game.

And while they did not come home champions, they come home as hometown heroes deserving of a hero’s welcome back, which is exactly what they received as they returned home from South Williamsport, Pa last night.

As their plane arrived at McCarran International Airport it was greeted with a water cannon salute from Clark County Fire Station 13 as they taxied from the runway to the gate. As they got off the plane they were greeted by police officers, airport staff and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who applauded them as they walked by.

When they got to the Baggage Claim area there was an even bigger surprise as they were greeted by banners and cheers from the public. Local government officials gave speeches and then gave all the boys and coaches Keys to the Las Vegas “Strip”.

And that’s just the start of things:

Tonight (Tuesday 8/26) 8 News Now is honoring the team at Arbor View HS – 7500 Whispering Sands Ave., LV, NV 89131. Public is invited to come out to show their support. Doors Open at 5:30pm.

On Saturday (8/30) the team will be honored at Las Vegas City Hall at 9 a.m. by Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Councilman Steven Ross, of Ward 6 where the team is based. Next, the team will parade down Las Vegas Boulevard, before being honored at an event at Town Square at 10 a.m.

Battling the Odds, Double Elimination and the National Media

During the series they would be overshadowed in the National Media by teams that have been there before but had more of an “Aww” factor. I guess it wasn’t enough that our boys were making history in their own way since we didn’t have a female pitcher or were an all-colored inner-city team (please take no offense to those statements, just stating facts).

Of course don’t get me wrong, they are all very touching and worthy stories deserving of coverage but so was ours… 1st team in Las Vegas and Nevada History to not only make the series but to completely dominate it by going undefeated from the City tournament through Regional’s to the Championship game while Outscoring opponents 181-38… A team from Las Vegas, a city and state that has never produced a World Series team, dominates the series and makes it as far as the U.S. Championship, isn’t super news worthy???

Of course the boys would keep truckin’ on and pay no attention to those things nor let them get them down. In fact I think it added fire to their fuel.

What else has got everyone more reeling??? The loss in the championship game was their 1st loss in the entire series in what is supposed to be a double-elimination tournament but they didn’t get a second chance like all the teams before them (including Illinois).

The reason? ESPN, who is paying out $60 million dollars over the next several years to broadcast the series doesn’t want to cover anymore games and Little League won’t adjust the schedule to allow anymore “IF” games.

Call it corporate greed, an oversight or just the way things are… either way it’s still a little sad and disheartening that corporate politics and greed can affect youth sports like this and strip deserving kids of that second chance.

Interesting enough, in a Yahoo news article posted recently, it states the Commissioner of Little League, Steve Keener, had a salary last year that topped $430,844! They compared that to an average salary of $184,926 to similar non-profits the size of Little League.

Several other Little League employees also topped six figure income levels…

But of course let’s also look at the other flipside of that…

 In order to account for that “If” game, a game that may not have even been needed, they would have had to extend the length of an already long tournament by a day or 2 or 3.

 If they couldn’t do that and had to play right away, even a day later, think about the kids… You could tell they all were already tired and drained (all the teams), do you think they could have played that “If”game? They would not have had enough time to rest and recover, especially the pitchers. They very well might have run out of pitchers by the time it came to play in the championship.

You could visibly see that Austin Kryszczuk’s shoulder was already giving him in an issue during the Championship game… The kids had been away from home and played in 11 games within a 24 day time span from August 1st to August 24th… and that was just the Regionals and World Series… They also played several games a few weeks leading up to the Regionals which included a trip to Carson City for State.

Back to the whole money issue for a minute… In the Yahoo article, Steve Keener did say they plan on using some of the money they are receiving to give-back to the players in the form of possible scholarships and other perks for players who make the series.  They have also already reduced league affiliation fees…

They do also provide transportation for the kids and coaches to and from the series plus lodging, meals and uniforms, which can be a huge expense. As far as I know, they are the only youth sports organization or national tournament that does that.  For example: When my daughter played in the NFL Flag Nationals and Championships in New Orleans a couple of years ago they paid for the hotel for 2 days but we had to pay for transportation and meals which cost a few hundred dollars.

Mountain Ridge Little League’s Road To & Through the World Series Consolation Game:


District 4 Tournament – Las Vegas, NV

Win vs Peccole LL - 13-1
Win vs Summerlin South LL - 21-1
Win vs Spring Valley LL - 10-0
Win vs Las Vegas Western LL - 28-0
Win vs Cheyenne LL - 7-3 (District Championship - District Champions)

State Tournament – Carson City, NV

Win vs Reno National LL - 11-0
Win vs Paseo Verde LL - 11-1
Win vs Paseo Verde 7-3 (State Championship - State Champions)

Western Regional Tournament – San Bernardino, CA

Win vs Utah 11-1
Win vs Arizona 6-5
Win vs Northern California 13-2
Win vs Southern California 8-4
Win vs Southern Califonia in Semi-Final  5-1
Win vs Northern California in Final 11-2 (Western Region Championship - Champion)

Little League World Series – South Williamsport, PA

Win vs South Dakota 12-2
Win vs Illinois 13-2
Win vs Pennsylvania 8-1
Loss vs Illinois 5-7 (U.S. Championship - 2nd Place U.S.)
Loss vs Japan 0-5 (World Consolation - 4th Place in the World)

What About Recognizing Other Teams from Vegas?

I have heard a little grumbling and kind of agree with it: What makes Mountain Ridge more special than some other local teams that have accomplished similar tasks. Little to No Media attention, No Huge Welcome Homes, No Keys to the Strip, No Nothing.

What am I talking about? I know first hand of teams and youth that have accomplished so much but barely registered a blimp on the radar.

For example, I know of an all girls NFL Flag team that my daughter played on for one year (that I aslo coached with as well for that year) who Won a Regional Tournament, went to Nationals, Made the Championship game and placed 2nd after losing by a touchdown.

This same team, different players, 2 years before had won the Championship and then won it again the year after. Games were all broadcasted via ESPN as well... but nope nothing, couldn't get the media or anything to pay attention to these teams that played in a Nationally Televised and Supported Tournament backed by USA Football and the NFL???

Unfortunately I can't answer that question. It is however one of the many reason's why I do what I do with this site and the Foundation. To give recognition where recognition is due to the best of my ability. I don't have any staff writers (can't afford them) and most of my time now is posting annoucements and working on our programs so I can't always follow what's happening since there is so much happening within our local sports community...

Don't let that deter you, if you have a team or organization that is creating milestone's, please send us all the info you can or better yet, write up something yourself and we will ALWAYS post it!

That Being Said, Thanks for Sticking Through This Long Article and CONGRATS TO MOUNTAIN RIDGE ON A HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT! 1st in the West; 2nd in the U.S.; 4th in the World!

Last modified on Monday, 01 September 2014 09:57