NEW PORT RICHEY - Since 1982, there have been no teams from West Pasco Little League that have won a Dixie League World Series national title.
This weekend, two teams that practice off Seven Springs Boulevard in New Port Richey will be vying for the opportunity to break the 31-year drought and bring home a championship to the West Pasco Dixie League. The Belles, who reached the national World Series last year as well, consist of 13- to 15-year-olds and the Angels are ages 9 and 10.
"It's a tremendous opportunity for everyone involved," Angels coach Catherine Anglada said. "These girls and coaches have basically given up their summers to compete for this very chance. We're just so happy to reach this point."
The Angels reached this point by having an impressive run through the state tournament, including two wins against Belleview (5-0, 7-0) and a 13-1 victory over Okeechobee. The Angels have a fielding percentage of .942 and an on-base percentage of .500. The 9- and 10-year-olds will take on Team Mississippi in round one of the national tourney in Alexandria, La. The Belles will take on Team Tennessee in their opening game this weekend.
"We have some tremendous hitting going on right now and I think it will continue heading into the national stage," Anglada said. "We have T-shirts that say 'Light em up' and I think that's exactly what our bats have been doing. We've also got five strong pitchers we can throw in there at anytime and that's an advantage for us."
Much fundraising and sponsorships were needed for the two teams to make the long trip to Louisiana this weekend, and league vice president Kim Anglin explained that a couple key sponsors came in at the last minute to help the cause.
"Friendly Kia really came through for us and we thank everyone involved for making this happen," Anglin said. "These girls have a great opportunity and experience ahead of them and it'll be a great time in Louisiana. We're just glad this was able to happen and we are in the World Series."
Correspondent Andy Villamarzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.