Churchland Little League celebrates rare feat

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A local little league is celebrating a rare feat in the game. Churchland Little League has three teams — and players from a fourth team — all competing at the state tournament.

The youngest players are eight and the oldest are 14. Many of the older boys have been playing together for years.

Matthew McEwen started when he was five, and he says he can’t even remember his first time at the plate.

“No, but I’ve heard stories of my first T-ball game. I hit the ball and actually took my helmet off and then ran to first base.”

McEwen and Jake Tiller have grown up on the field together.

“Saturday, we actually have practice at six in the morning,” Tiller said.

All their practice is paying off. Nowhere in the team’s 59-year history have they ever sent three teams to state in the same year.

Jake’s mom, Vicki Tiller, told WAVY.com, “It was a good fight for them to make it to this position. It wasn’t easy by any means. A couple of ‘heart attack games’ as we called it.”

Now those hearts are pounding in anticipation.

“I’m excited because in our 9-10 when we went, we didn’t get to go to a hotel,” said Matthew’s younger brother Jonathan, also a player.

That kind of success comes at a cost.

“I totaled about $7,000 just for a minimum stay of four nights for three teams to go,” Vicki told WAVY.com.

They’re hoping the community will rally behind them.

There is a fundraiser happening Thursday from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Pelican SnoBalls on Airline Boulevard in Portsmouth. The team takes home 20 percent of the profits.

Tournament play starts next week. If they win, they’ll head off to regionals and if successful there, the Little League World Series.