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For Little League teams in Europe, the road to Williamsport, Pa., this year runs through Vilseck, Germany.

“The Little League European headquarters in Kutno (Poland) requested that communities in Germany host some of this year’s regional tournaments,” Chris Cornelison, Vilseck’s Child and Youth Services sports director, said Monday.

“We offered to host the Transatlantic Regional (for players 11 and 12 years old) and were thrilled when we got it.”

The tournament will run from Wednesday through Aug. 11.

Cornelison said officials at Kutno, where the tournament had been held, farmed out three of the eight Little League Baseball and Softball European regionals because it could not host more than five in the time frame necessary to select the European representatives to the various world series in the States.

From an American’s point of view, Vilseck landed the plum tourney. It is a qualifying round for a berth in Little League Baseball’s showcase event, the Little League World Series in Williamsport Aug. 19-28.

Seven teams of North American 11- and 12-year-olds based in Europe and Saudi Arabia will compete in Vilseck.

Leading the way will be perennial power Saudi Arabia, which has represented the Transatlantic Region — and the European Region in which it competed prior to the creation of the Transatlantic in 2001 — for the past five years and 16 times since 1983.

Trying to unseat the champs will be five military community teams — Ramstein, Germany, which last went to Williamsport in 1999; Naples, Italy; Rota, Spain; Mildenhall, England; and Brunssum/Schinnen, Netherlands — along with the Belgium Little League entry. The last usually adds U.S. military community players to its nucleus drawn from the business and diplomatic community in Brussels. Belgium last went to Williamsport in 1984.

To match the dorms provided for teams at Kutno, Cornelison said the Vilseck community would provide troop billeting for the teams and coaches free of charge. And Vilseck’s playing fields, nestled at the edge of a family housing area on Rose Barracks, are nearly in Kutno’s class, he said.

“We’ve had some big league teams tell us they’re the nicest fields they’ve seen,” he said.

Cornelison said his community was excited about its role as the steppingstone to Williamsport.

“We’re looking forward to it,” he said. “There are only 16 regionals in the world, and we landed one of them.”

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