When teams gather this week in Mirabel, Que. to begin the 2018 Little League Canadian Championship, there’s no question who the heavy favourite will be. Teams representing British Columbia have won the last 12 of 13 national titles and will once again look to swing for the fences when the ball starts flying Thursday morning.
It's now up to Surrey's Whalley Little League Majors Allstars to keep the B.C. streak alive for a province that excels in the sport. The Surrey team last won the provincial and national title in 2006. They also won the championship in 2005 — in total this Surrey program has won the national little league title on five different occasions.
But capturing the baseball prize in Mirabel won't be an easy task this year, especially because the host squad Diamond Baseball Academy Little League have redemption on their minds — they lost the championship game last year in Medicine Hat, Alta. to White Rock South Surrey.
The who's who of little league
Seven teams made up of players ranging in age from 10 to 12 years old will be playing for not only this year's championship but also get to travel to Williamsport, PA, to represent Canada at the Little League World Series.
CBC Sports will have live coverage of every game in Mirabel from Aug. 2 to Aug. 11, offering a live-stream at cbcsports.ca throughout the round robin with the semifinal and final games also broadcast on CBC.
There is representation from British Columbia, Alberta, the Prairie region, Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic region — the teams include Surrey's Whalley Little League Majors Allstars, Lethbridge Southwest Little League, Regina Kiwanis National, Toronto High Park Little League, Valley Field Little League, Glace Bay Colonels and the host Mirabel Diamond Baseball Little League.
Three games will be played each day starting on Thursday morning at 10 a.m. ET as Surrey squares off against Lethbridge.
The seven teams will play a round robin. After each team has played one another the top four teams will advance to the semifinal round. Those two semifinal games will be played Friday, Aug. 10 at 10 a.m. ET and 1 p.m. ET.
The winners of the semifinal games will meet in the championship game played at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 11.
History of the tournament
There is a long and rich history when it comes to the Canadian Little League championship. In 1952, Canada became the first international team represented in the Little League Baseball World Series.
In 1958, the Canadian region was officially created with a tournament established between representatives from Ontario and Quebec, with Valleyfield (Que.) winning the inaugural championship.
B.C has dominated over the years, winning a total of 26 times in 54 appearances. The next closest to B.C. are Quebec and Ontario with 13 titles each.
Notable members of past Canadian Championship teams include Michael Saunders (Gordon Head Little League, Victoria, B.C., 1999), Adam Loewen (Kennedy-Surrey Little League, Surrey, B.C., 1996) and Jason Bay (Trail Little League, Trail, B.C., 1990).
A Canadian team has never won the Little League World Series. Last year, the team from White Rock finished with a 2-2 record — the deepest run by a Canadian team in almost two decades.
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