Jackie Robinson West Coach: 'Honestly, I Think We're the Best Team Here'
CHICAGO — Thousands of Little League teams across the globe hoped to win a world championship in Williamsport, Pa.
Of those thousands, Jackie Robinson West is one of just three United States clubs still in contention. The Morgan Park-based squad plays at 6:30 p.m. Thursday on ESPN against Philadelphia, which lost to Las Vegas on Wednesday night.
Justin Breen outlines what's next for Chicago's favorite team:
"It's a great feeling to be one of the last three teams left," JRW coach Darold Butler told DNAinfo Chicago during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. "We're not feeling any pressure. The kids are motivated, just trying to be the No. 1 team in the United States. ... Honestly, I think we're the best team here."
Jackie Robinson West (3-1) avoided elimination with victories over Cumberland, R.I., on Monday and Pearland, Texas, on Tuesday. The club's lone LLWS loss was against Las Vegas, but Butler believes it would be a different story if the teams met again.
"Even though we lost, it was a wakeup call," Butler said. "Our kids would love to see that team again. We would play much harder. It would be a totally different situation."
Butler's boys had a day off Wednesday, and he said everyone got to sleep in. The team was in attendance for Wednesday night's game, which drew a monster crowd at Lamade Stadium and the surrounding hillsides.
Butler also has appreciated the support from Chicago, the state and beyond.
"The kids are having a ball, and I'm having a ball," Butler said. "I'm like a big kid right now. ... There's a lot of people who are crazy about what's going on with the Great Lakes team. We play the game hard, and we're exciting to watch. Just looking up on those hills, just seeing how many people are wearing Great Lakes shirts, it's amazing."
Wednesday afternoon, the mayor's office announced there will be another watch party on Thursday at Jackie Robinson Park, 10540 S. Morgan Park St. An inclement weather plan will be set for the auditorium of Mt. Vernon Elementary School, just north of Jackie Robinson Park.
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