GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — In less than two days, the Little League Softball World Series kicks off for its third year of play in Greenville.
There are 12 teams, eight from the U.S. and four international. They are all coming here to Stallings Stadium at Elm Street Park to compete and play ball. On Friday, crews were putting the final touches on the field. Officials say they are excited about the series and the dollars it will bring to the area.
“Our small businesses in our downtown are obviously going to feel that, our hotels are going to feel that, you know, the exposure that this event brings is huge as well,” said Andrew Schmidt, the president and CEO of Visit Greenville, NC. “So over the 13 days where we have people here, the economic impact is estimated at about $1.2 million.”
The teams are expected to bring in thousands of people from all over.
“A thousand to 1,500 people at some games. We know we’ll have people from out of North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina that’ll come just for the games that are just softball enthusiasts, and, of course, the families of the players as well,” said Schmidt.
Ashlea Miller is the tournament and softball development director for Little League. She said the series brings people together.
“Even if there’s a language barrier with speaking to the teams from the international side to the US side, everyone knows the game of softball and that is one connection that we have, and it’s beautiful to see them all come together to really showcase that spirit of the game,” said Miller.
There are changes this year though.
“We also have recreated our player development warm-up area this year, so the girls got new batting cages. Every year, we look to enhance the experience a little bit more. Here at Little League, we take this really serious,” said Miller.
Greenville Mayor P.J. Connelly is excited. Which team is he rooting for?
“I’d be a liar if I didn’t say I was rooting for our hometown girls, Pitt County Girls Softball League,” Connelly said with a smile. “We’re hopeful we’ll have a really good tournament, but, of course, I’ll be rooting for our home team.”
The Little League Softball World Series will hold opening ceremonies on Saturday at Town Common. The first games begin Sunday at Elm Street Park.
Teams competing in the 2023 Little League Softball® World Series include:
North Carolina Host Team:
Rowan Little League – Salisbury
Pitt County Girls Softball League – Winterville
Bend North Little League – Bend, Oregon
Midway Little League – Hewitt, Texas
Almaden Little League – San Jose, California
New England Region:
Massapequa International Little League – Massapequa Park, New York
Austintown Little League – Austintown, Ohio
Negros Occidental Little League – Philippines
St. Albert Softball League, St. Albert, Alberta
Lombardia Little League – Italy
Latin America Region:
Guayama Softball Little League – Puerto Rico