Move over Phillies, Philadelphia has a new baseball team in town. Mid-Atlantic Little League champions, the Taney Dragons, captivated the city this weekend as they headed to historic Williamsport for the first two games of the Little League World series.
On Friday afternoon, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy hosted a watch party in the school’s courtyard. Three SCH Acacemy students, Mo’ne Davis (Class of ’19), Scott Bandura (’20) and Jahli Hendricks (’19) play for the Taney Dragons, and though school is not yet in session, teachers, classmates, faculty, family and friends gathered on the lawn to root for their beloved classmates and students.
“This is crazy,” says Head of Middle Schools at SCH Academy, Josh Budde.
Looking out onto the full courtyard as the Taney Dragons took a 3-0 lead over South Nashville on Friday afternoon he adds, “As we started seeing the team get win after win we said to ourselves ‘This is awesome!’ We have to do something to show our support, so we quickly got together this little festival in the park with the hot dogs, the popcorn and the big screen.”
As Head of Middle Schools, Budde says he knows Bandura and Hendricks well, and has gotten to better know Mo’ne Davis — just like the rest of the country — through all her recent media attention. Davis has become just the 18th female to play in the Little League World Series in 68 years. The pitcher’s 70 mph fastball and back-to-back shutouts have given her national recognition.
The attention has only strengthened the character of these three young athletes, Budde notes. “These are three of the nicest kids you’d ever want to know,” Budde says. “They’re as humble as can be. I’m willing to bet they’re going to come back to school and everyone will want to be their friends or want their autographs, and they will just continue to be how they’ve always been.”
As the last inning began on Friday evening, the Taney Dragons held a 3-0 lead. Anxiety was evident with every pitch and the crowd cheered for Davis and the Dragons with every strikeout. With a final pitch securing the win for the Dragons, hands shot into the air and courtyard erupted. The win made Davis the first female pitcher in history to pitch a shut-out in the Little League World Series.
“We’re just so happy for these kids,” Budde said. “They’ve worked hard and they deserve this, and we’re thrilled to be able to show our support.”
The Taney Dragons went on to a 7-6 victory Sunday night in a nail-biting match against Pearland, Texas. The team will take on Las Vegas Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.