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16 teams vying for LLWS championship

Annual youth tournament begins Thursday
MLB.com

Youth baseball returns to its roots this week as the 71st Little League World Series begins on Thursday. Hundreds of thousands of fans will flock to Willamsport, Pa., the birthplace of Little League Baseball.

The players on the field are just 11-12 years old, but their dreams are as big as their Major League counterparts. In fact, many of them have gone on to play Major League Baseball, including Cody Bellinger (Chandler, Ariz.), Todd Frazier (Toms River, N.J.) and Jonathan Schoop (Willemstad, Curacao).

Youth baseball returns to its roots this week as the 71st Little League World Series begins on Thursday. Hundreds of thousands of fans will flock to Willamsport, Pa., the birthplace of Little League Baseball.

The players on the field are just 11-12 years old, but their dreams are as big as their Major League counterparts. In fact, many of them have gone on to play Major League Baseball, including Cody Bellinger (Chandler, Ariz.), Todd Frazier (Toms River, N.J.) and Jonathan Schoop (Willemstad, Curacao).

Video: Cody Bellinger in 2007 Little League World Series

In addition to the uppercut swings and knee-buckling curveballs, these kids already have started establishing their baseball personalities, and with millions of eyes watching them on TV over the next week and a half, we're about to get to know the next wave of future stars.

Here's your first look at the 16 teams that hope to play for the world championship on Aug. 27.

Tweet from @LittleLeague: The finishing touches. #LLWS pic.twitter.com/QtEcz6gL8S

REGION 
Great Lakes
League: Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores
Location: Grosse Pointe, Mich.
Calling card: The team chants "Row the Boat" before each game

REGION 
Mid-Atlantic
League: Holbrook
Location: Jackson, N.J.
Calling card: 10 home runs in four regional games

Tweet from @FlavaFraz21: Congrats Holbrook Little League. Proud of you guys.I need a shirt to rock before Thursday someone send an XL 2 stadium #njsfinest #LLWS2017

REGION 
Midwest
League: Sioux Falls
Location: Sioux Falls, S.D.
Calling card: Pitching gave up just six runs in four regional games

Tweet from @LittleLeague: Next Stop: #LLWS ������ Full recap: https://t.co/4XLqKsl1Oo pic.twitter.com/d4f6w41xjj

REGION 
New England
League: Fairfield American
Location: Fairfield, Conn.
Calling card: Most players eat gummies for good luck before each game

Tweet from @LittleLeague: They're in. Full recap: https://t.co/aSChBhMHbv#LLWS pic.twitter.com/qHiBcawmM4

REGION 
Northwest
League: Walla Walla Valley
Location: Walla Walla, Wash.
Calling card: 43 hits over five regional games

Tweet from @LittleLeague: Northwest Region Championship ������#LLWS 🔜Full Recap: https://t.co/2roDVzrz5h pic.twitter.com/AW9OM3wDoA

REGION
Southeast
League: North State
Location: Greenville, N.C.
Calling card: Little Leaguer Joseph Byrne has a personal connection to Hall of Fame pitcher Catfish Hunter

REGION
Southwest
League: Lufkin
Location: Lufkin, Texas
Calling card: Player nicknames include Big Cheese and Hollywood; 12 of 13 players on team name hometown hero Brandon Belt as their favorite player

Tweet from @LittleLeague: Lufkin LL has earned its trip to Williamsport for the #LLWS: https://t.co/DpdalssEwG pic.twitter.com/TBwUJrONiC

REGION 
West
League: Santa Margarita
Location: Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
Calling card: Team recorded 12 two-out RBIs in four regional games

Tweet from @LittleLeague: How the West Region was won: https://t.co/baeAiAtbOe #LLWS pic.twitter.com/6eoxXc4160

REGION 
Asia-Pacific

League: West Seoul
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Calling card: Team allowed just two runs in four regional games

REGION
Australia

League: Hills
Location: Sydney
Calling card: Team scored 86 runs in seven regional games, outscoring opponents 86-16

REGION 
Canada

League: White Rock-South Surrey
Location: White Rock, British Columbia
Calling card: Team scored 114 runs over eight regional games

Tweet from @LittleLeague: British Columbia's White Rock-South Surrey LL will represent Canada at the #LLWS! pic.twitter.com/7alGhLepSm

REGION 
Caribbean

League: Los Bravos de Pontezuela
Location: Santiago, Dominican Republic
Calling card: Jesus Chevalier's brother, Rayderson, pitched for two seasons in the Minor Leagues with the Astros' organization

REGION 
Europe-Africa

League: Emilia
Location: Emilia, Italy
Calling card: Team mercy-ruled the United Kingdom, 12-2, in the regional final

REGION 
Japan

League: Tokyo Kitasuna
Location: Tokyo
Calling card: Outscored opponents, 53-6, in regionals

Tweet from @LittleLeague: 🇻🤝🇯#LLWS pic.twitter.com/Ji4pygv9JI

REGION
Latin America

League: Luz-Maracaibo
Location: Maracaibo, Venezuela
Calling card: Team allowed just nine runs in eight regional games, outscoring opponents, 81-9

REGION
Mexico

League: Guadalupe Trevino Kelly
Location: Reynosa
Calling card: Saul Soto's father, Saul, has played 20 seasons in the Mexican League

Mike McCormick is an editorial director for MLB.com.