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Sports

By Lois Thomson

If you check out the website for the PONY League World Series, you'll see a time clock clicking down the number of days, hours, minutes, and even seconds until the start of the 2021 Series. Oh yeah, they're looking forward to it.

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For updated information, visit the PONY League World Series website at www.plws.org.

The games will be held at Lew Hays PONY Field in Washington, Pa., and will run from Aug. 13 – 18, with additional activities taking place at a pre-event Fan Fest Aug. 12. The championship game will be played Aug. 18 at 6 p.m.

"We're swinging for the fences," said Jeff Kotula, president of the Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency, and added that the event "brings together our local communities to present an international event."

Tournament organizers are excited to have the games resume this season after the pandemic shutdown in 2020, but activities won't be completely back to normal. The tournament usually consists of 10 teams from national and international zones, but because of travel restrictions, the Mexican, European, and Asia-Pacific Zones will not be sending representatives­­ this year. The field, therefore, will be made up of eight teams: the four American Zones – North, South, East, and West – plus Puerto Rico from the Caribbean Zone; Host Area 1 and Host Area 2 teams (comprising students from six local high schools); and one from Washington. A team from Chinese Taipei had won the 2018 and 2019 tournaments, so 2021 will showcase a new winner.

The PONY League – which stands for Protect Our Nation's Youth – was originally organized in 1951 in Washington, Pa., with the purpose of enabling youngsters who played Little League baseball to transition from a smaller field (60 feet between bases) to the larger-sized diamond. For the first 30 years, the finals – for the world's top 13- and 14-year-old teams – were held in various states across the country. However, in 1981, World Series Tournaments, Incorporated was put in charge of running the tournament and designated the location to be Washington, Pa.

Tickets for the 2021 tournament are $6 for adults for a single game, or $25 for a weekly pass. Children 14-and-under will pay $4 or $15 respectively. Fans in attendance might see players who could later be part of an MLB team: Hall of Famers Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, Jr., are among those who played through the PLWS, as well as current Pirates pitcher Chase De Jong, who was a starter for the 2008 Long Beach World Champions.

For updated information, visit the PONY League World Series website at www.plws.org.

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