BROOKFIELD, Wis. - These Elmbrook U12 All-Stars are practicing for one of the biggest games in their young careers.
On July 30, they became state champions for the first time in their league’s history by winning the 2021 Wisconsin Little League Championship.
"Last week was a lot of celebration, a lot of excitement," said Bennett Fryjoff, Elmbrook first baseman. "Everyone got what they wanted."
As state champions, Elmbrook has now qualified for the Little League World Series Great Lakes Regional Tournament in Whitestown, Ind.
"It's very exciting for us," said Jason Steichen, head coach of the Elmbrook U12 Little League All-Stars team. "I know my 12-year-old who is on the team, in 2017, we were actually out in Williamsport watching the World Series, so to be here in the position where we are close to being able to realize a dream of his is pretty exciting."
Making it this far just means a lot more.
"It means a huge representation for Elmbrook and Brookfield, meaning representing Wisconsin in the regional tournament," said Fryjoff.
In the history of these regionals, no Wisconsin team has ever won a game. Elmbrook is hoping to become the first.
"Well, it'd be huge," said Steichen. "The state of Wisconsin has not fared well in Regionals. Wisconsin has never actually been to the Little League World Series, so obviously it would be setting a precedent."
On the biggest and brightest of stages in the Midwest Region, they’re preparing to face Michigan.
"I have been watching some of the past regional tournaments and I think we have a decent shot," said Fryjoff.
"I think there's a bit of pressure because we're going to be on TV and all that, but I think we'll get through the nerves and all that and try and win some games," said Zack Steichen, Elmbrook pitcher and center fielder.
There’s a lot on the line this weekend.
"We're just going to remind them, you know, kind of the line from Hoosiers," said Steichen. "The baseball field, it's 60 feet to first, 46 feet to the pitcher's mound. When you get out there, try and forget about the cameras and play the game you love playing."
This team is confident they can make that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Williamsport.
"The Bucks won an NBA Championship and made history," said Hayden Hakes, Elmbrook catcher. "Hopefully, we make history too."
The team will have a sendoff from Mitchell Park in Brookfield Friday morning before they leave for Indiana.
Their first regional game is against Michigan this Sunday, August 8 at 12 pm CT on ESPN+.