North State little leaguers make brief return to eastern NC en route to Williamsport
The North State Little League team, barely 24 hours after capturing the Southeast Regional Title in Warner Robbins, Georgia, returned home to Greenville to a raucous celebration on Thursday evening.
Bryce Jackson, the NSLL catcher who hit a 3-run home run in the title game, said the experience there was memorable, to say the least.
"Definitely a one time thing I'll never forget," he said. "It's very special."
Brian Fields, the manager of this team made up of the all-stars from the North Star Little League, said the team he managed during the regular season didn't have near this level of success.
"Our team was never really that good in the league - we always finished at the bottom of the division," he said. "(We) had a few all star experiences but nothing to this magnitude. This is going to be a great experience not only for the players but for the coaches and parents as well."
Matt Matthijs, who starred in relief on the mound during the regional title game, said he and his teammates just have to keep doing what they've been doing to keep the winning streak going.
"We have to hit and play our game," he said.
Fields said winning it all will take his players' very best.
"When you get to this stage, every team is good so you know we are going to have to pitch very well, we are going to have to hit better," he said. "Pitching and defense is our strength but we will have to hit a lot better."
The team was originally set to host an open practice and home run derby at Elm Street Park at 7 on Friday night but had to cancel that event due to rain. The team heads out for Williamsport Saturday morning.
North State will play its first game in Williamsport at the Little League World Series next Friday.