Hills win Australian Little League Championships at Blacktown International Sportspark; to head to Little League World Series

Hills Junior Baseball Association will compete against the world after claiming back-to-back Australian Little League Championships.

Number one: Hills defended its Australian Little League Championship title at Blacktown International Sportspark to become the first Australian club to make back-to-back Little League World Series. Picture: Andrew McMurtry

Number one: Hills defended its Australian Little League Championship title at Blacktown International Sportspark to become the first Australian club to make back-to-back Little League World Series. Picture: Andrew McMurtry

Played at Blacktown International Sportspark, Hills broke new ground as the first Australian club to qualify for back-to-back Little League World Series.

Hills coach Chris Swan said it was great to see the boys reap the rewards.

“You just want to make them better people, better players and then if you can get a reward like this, it’s something really good for them to show that hard work can pay off,” Swan said. 

“They put in so much time and so much effort, same with the parents and they get to party as well now.”

Hills were strong throughout the weekend with wins over Victoria’s Southern Mariners (9-3) and Manly (7-1) on Saturday. They defeated Western Australia’s Swan Hills Aces 8-4 on Sunday to be crowned national Little League champions.

Swan said the Australian finals were high quality and Hills had to fight for their place in the World Series. 

“You come into finals baseball and everyone deserves to be here,” he said. 

“You’re not going to be handed anything and the level of baseball over this weekend was exceptional.”

Stephen Courtney, 13, was a key performer for Hills in the final with a first-inning home run and a decisive three-run triple in the fourth. 

He was also the starting pitcher for Hills, striking out nine batters in four hitless innings before Swan Hills’ late fightback.

Stephen, who was part of last years’ Little League World Series team, said it was an “out of this world” feeling to win the title again. 

“We’ve been working for this since December and we’re just stunned. We came into this tournament knowing we had a job to do and we did it,” Stephen said.

“We just want to get a better experience this year. Last year it was tough and we got a few wins on the board but we just want to go better this year.”

Stephen, Harrison Wheeldon and Ethan Treble will all play in their second Little League World Series, a rare feat for the biggest Little League event in the world.

The 2017 Little League World Series will be held in Williamsport, Pennsylvania August 17-27.

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