Hazleton Challenger Little League Team Heading to World Series

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HAZLETON, Pa. -- Northeastern Pennsylvania will be represented at the Little League World Series.

The Hazleton Little League Challenger Division team was all smiles as family, friends, and community members joined them at the Hazleton Little League Complex on East 9th Street.

The Challenger Division is an adaptive baseball program for individuals with physical and intellectual challenges every year two teams from the program are chosen to play at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport.

"I play first base and I am excited to go down there and play a once a life time opportunity to go down there and play," said player Brett Evancho.

"950 Challenger Leagues in 10 countries and only two each year get to go, so this is a once in a life time thing," Hazleton Little League president Ed Shoepe said.

Parents and players tell Newswatch 16 they are very excited to have the community behind them as they go off to Williamsport.

"We've enjoyed the practices but now seeing everybody here and the fire trucks and you guys, it just made it more real. It's so exciting. I just can't stop crying. It's so exciting!" parent Joann Mamourian said.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and I'm so excited for him but to be here with him it's priceless," said parent Joe Drauschak.

Savannah and Lexi danced around the parking lot, hardly containing their excitement for the big game

"Watch me play in a World Series game!" Savannah Pajovich said.

But then it was time to save that energy for the field as the team got into their cars and headed out west.

One of the greatest things that I think any Little League -- whether you're a typical Little League or a Challenger Division -- can experience going to Williamsport and playing the World Series is as great as it gets," Shoepe said.

The Challenger Division game will take place Saturday morning at Volunteer Stadium.

"Community support is always great. We're overwhelmed on the support we got. I didn't expect to see as big a turnout and all the people that are here today," said Hazleton Little League president Ed Shoepe.

The team had quite the sendoff Friday morning with fire trucks, troopers, and community members showing their support. They even had a police escort all the way to Williamsport.

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