Team Utah is a fan favorite at the Little League World Series
At a time when many of us are looking for something to bring us all together, Utah’s little league baseball team might just be the answer.
It’s been quite a run for Team Utah to make it to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylanvia, but this week may have been the hardest of all before they even took the field.
“The reality of it is, this has been a really emotional week, right? And so having your family and friends here, it means the world to you,” said Utah head coach Kyle Hafen.
Hafen is talking about Easton Oliverson, a pitcher and outfielder on the team, who fell from his bunkbed earlier this week and was rushed to a hospital.
Doctors removed a piece of his skull to save his life.
“This morning, he was able to walk to the bathroom by himself, so, pretty drastic improvement,” said Mark Ence, an assistant coach on Team Utah.
It’s the kind of thing that rallies a team and rallies baseball fans at the stadium who aren’t even from Utah.
“We just want him to get better and get back here and get with his team,” said Bobby Davis, who lives in Pennsylvania and printed Team Easton signs to cheer for Utah after hearing their story.
Team Utah even inspires their competition.
Tennessee players wore Utah’s hats for their pre-game practice. They even tipped their caps to the Utah dugout and fans before the game in a show of support for Utah and Oliverson.
“We knew they were going to be really emotional, and we wanted to do some kind of gesture to let them know, yes, we’re going to play baseball and we’re going to be competitive, however, we still have compassion and we’re still thinking about you guys and keeping you in our thoughts,” said Tennessee Head Coach Randy Huth.
What a day. We are live one more time from Williamsport, PA, following #TeamUtah. Our story is on how this team has become a fan favorite here… bringing people together at a time when we could all use a little more of that. @KSL5TV at 10. #ksltv #TeamEaston pic.twitter.com/SPCjbbnJee
— Alex Cabrero (@KSL_AlexCabrero) August 20, 2022
The end result, an 11-to-2 Tennessee win, isn’t what Utah was hoping for. However, after what they’ve been through, they know there are things more important than a final score.
“It’s brought, not only our community, but it seems like the whole state, and honestly, maybe I’m exaggerating, but the whole country together,” Ence said.
Win or lose, championship or not, there is no doubt Team Utah has already won the hearts of baseball fans everywhere.
“We came with a purpose,” said Lindsey Gainey, who was in the stands cheering for her son. “And like our coaches said, that purpose just got bigger.”
Team Utah plays again this Sunday.
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