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Celebration held at Elm Street

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North State players are welcomed home at Elm Street Park on Aug. 10, 2017 after winning Southeast Regionals. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Friday, August 11, 2017

Fans who have tuned in and followed the North State All-Stars got a chance to reconnect and celebrate with the team on Thursday night at Elm Street Park.

A welcome-home celebration was held for the team, which plays in the 10-12-year-old division and has had a summer to remember. The open practice scheduled for Friday afternoon was cancelled because of rain.

The team was returning from winning the Southeast Regional in Warner Robins, Ga., and its visit home was destined to be a quick one. On Saturday, the players and coaches will head to Williamsport, Pa., to play in the Little League World Series next week.

Little League is paying for the team’s flight, which is standard procedure for the teams that make the LLWS.

“I just enjoyed the experience (at the regional) and I’m looking forward to playing there because it’s kind of like every kids’ dream,” said Matthew Matthijs, the tallest player on the team at 6-foot-1 and one of the best players. “It’s been a dream of mine. I watch it every year.”

North State’s first game in Williamsport is Aug. 18 at 8 p.m. when it plays the U.S. Midwest representative. 

Thursday brought about a chance for the well-traveled North State players and coaches to spend quality time in Greenville and particularly Elm Street Park, which is the home field for Greenville Little Leagues. North State has mostly played away from Greenville this summer, breezing through district and state tournaments before going undefeated in Warner Robins and winning the championship Wednesday afternoon with an 8-6 victory over Peachtree City, Ga.

The Southeast semifinal and championship contests were broadcast on ESPN, and all of the games in Williamsport will be on an ESPN network or ABC.

“You see the Facebook posts and all the texts and everything, but this is crazy,” coach Brian Fields said. “I don’t think we’ve realized exactly what we’ve done so far.”

Fans held signs and gave out plenty of high-fives and hugs to the youngsters after they got out of their vehicles. The players and coaches were then introduced on the field.

Greenville Little Leagues was established in 1951 and this is its second team to make the World Series. Tar Heel went in 1998.

Donations for team and family expenses can be sent to: Greenville Little Leagues, P.O. Box 4263, Greenville, NC 27836.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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