For once, Las Vegas isn’t making headlines for hype, flash or style. For once, Las Vegas is a national story for understatement, depth, substance, heart and dedication. And domination.
Thank the remarkable young men of Las Vegas’ Mountain Ridge Little League.
The big story from the nationally televised Little League World Series has been Mo’ne Davis, a brilliant ballplayer from Mid-Atlantic Region champion Philadelphia who happens to be a girl. She landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The other big story: the Great Lakes Region champions from Chicago. All of their players happen to be African-American.
But Mountain Ridge, the first Nevada team to make it to Williamsport, Pa., has invited far less attention despite sweeping to Saturday’s U.S. championship game.
The team happens to be awesome.
“We are Team Incognito,” Mountain Ridge manager Ashton Cave told the Review-Journal’s Ed Graney on Wednesday after defeating Ms. Davis and Philadelphia 8-1. “We stay low, stay out of the limelight, do our job, take care of business and win games.” Do they ever.
Mountain Ridge won its first two games in the tournament via mercy rule, then made several big plays in tense moments to pull away from Philadelphia. In its three victories, the Las Vegas squad has outscored its opponents 33-5. The team’s 14 boys, collectively, have displayed the tournament’s best pitching, best hitting, best power hitting and best fielding. They used all of those attributes — diving catches, double plays, power pitching and home runs — to chase Ms. Davis from Wednesday’s game despite a crowd of more than 34,000 that obviously favored the home-state team.
Mountain Ridge will play Chicago for the national title. The winner of that game advances to Sunday’s World Series final against the international bracket champion.
However it plays out, Mountain Ridge is the pride of Nevada. Everyone in the valley is a Little League fan today.
We can’t think of better ambassadors for the city and the state. They’re putting Las Vegas in the news for far different reasons than Americans are accustomed. National stories on the valley tend to focus on tourism, parties, nightclubs, entertainers, gambling, suicides and strippers. Always strippers. Throw in economic hardships, social challenges and a struggling education system, and the stories from parachuting correspondents practically write themselves.
But this team showcases a different side of Las Vegas, the side where hardworking, dedicated families give their children every opportunity to learn a great game, the side where countless volunteers and community sponsors provide the time and support required to help kids have fun and grow.
Viva Mountain Ridge. Viva Las Vegas.