Northern Little League all-stars begin trek to World Series in Williamsport

At an hour most of them would normally be getting ready for school, 12 Northern Little League baseball players and their coaches were gathering at the Columbus welcome center to begin the journey to Williamsport.

The team qualified for the Little League World Series by winning the Southeastern Regional Friday night in Warner Robins. After driving to Atlanta, flying to Philadelphia and then making the three-hour drive to Williamsport, the team should be settled in by early evening.

That will give them plenty of time to get ready for Saturday's opening game against the Western Region champion from Hawaii.

Toby and Tammy Gilliland were there to see their son, Troy, off. It was a quick turn around for the players and their parents.

"We just took everything, washed it and put it back in," Toby Gilliland said of packing his son for what could be two weeks in Williamsport.

For Northern catcher Blake Hicks the 7 a.m. departure came early.

"Way early," Hicks said of the 5:30 wake-up call.

Before leaving, Northside High baseball coach David Smart gave the team a quick pep talking, telling them how proud the city was of its accomplishment.

"How many of you have seen the movie 'Miracle?'" Smart asked. "Well, there is a line in there that says 'Great moments come from great opportunities.' You have a great opportunity."