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LL team capturing our hearts

Sports have a unique way of rallying communities.

We see it regularly at the high school, college and professional level.

But it’s especially captivating when it involves the innocence of young athletes such as the Hollidaysburg Little League team.

Hollidaysburg has stormed its way into the Little League World Series, which begins in Williamsport on Wednesday night.

The local entry, which clinched the Mid-Atlantic Regional championship on Friday in Bristol, Connecticut, plays Thursday night on ESPN2 against Pearland, Texas.

The Mid-Atlantic title was actually the fourth tournament Hollidaysburg needed to win in order to advance to Williamsport.

In doing so, Hollidaysburg made history as the first Blair County team to ever qualify for the Little League World Series, and because the four games in Bristol were televised nationally by ESPN, well, local residents and anyone connected to the region has taken notice.

“The kids’ phones haven’t stopped ringing,” Hollidaysburg manager Jim McGough said. “It’s constant — the amount of text messages and phone calls, and not only just the community, but people who have moved away. People from California, Minnesota are seeing the kids on ESPN and feeling the pride of being from Hollidaysburg. It’s been awesome.”

Indeed. No matter how the local 12-year-old all-star team does on the big stage at Williamsport, this is definitely a special achievement.

But we’re not underestimating the team’s chances.

It appears to be very fundamentally sound, well coached, has pitching depth and plenty of hitting.

It also has a collective spirit that is infectious and has helped the team rally from early losses in the state and regional tournament, proving it can overcome disappointment.

Its “bull rush” motto came from compassion shown to participants in the Challenger Division, which allows boys and girls with disabilities to play baseball.

That’s admirable, too.

Simply put, it’s a team to root for, and we will be.

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