'Stella and the Fellas' crushing baseballs (and candy) at LLWS

August 17th, 2023
Photo courtesy of Little League Baseball and Softball

History is about to be made once again in Williamsport, Pa., when Stella Weaver takes the field on Friday. She will become the 22nd girl in history to play in the Little League World Series.

Williamsport is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for any young baseball player. Twenty teams gather this week (10 U.S. and 10 international teams) to compete for the most treasured Little League banner. This experience is particularly special for one 12-year-old from Nolensville, Tenn.

Weaver, the only girl on her Southeast Region team and the only one in this year’s Little League Baseball World Series field, started playing baseball at the age of 8, after trying softball and hockey.

“I always just thought [baseball] was more fun -- my brother always played it and it just looked like more fun than all of the other sports,” she said in a phone interview.

The Nolensville Little Leaguers are better known as the “Stella and the Fellas” team. How did that nickname come to be?  

“I am the middle of 23 cousins just on my dad’s side. I was born in between eight boys so all of my cousins my age are all boys,” she said. “So my uncles made up ‘Stella and the Fellas’ and my dad made it up too.  

“My dad told it to our team and then they were like ‘Oh my gosh, that’s such a great name.’ So now it's ‘Stella and the Fellas’ for this team.” 

Now that Weaver and her teammates are in Williamsport, the anticipation is only building for her to play the game that she loves. Until she gets to step onto the field, she is keeping herself busy at the Grove (where the LLWS teams stay during the tournament) by playing air hockey and race car games in the game room and hanging out with teams from around the world.

Her team also received a special visit earlier this week from MLB Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg.  

“It was super cool -- all of us learned so much from him. … It was crazy,” she said. “After, he called me over to talk to me. He was just like ‘Have as much fun as you can, do your best, and just stay calm.’” 

This year’s Nolensville team is managed by Randy Huth, who became the first manager in LLWS history to bring teams to Williamsport in back-to-back-to-back years.  

“Since this is his third year in a row and that’s crazy how that happened, he has just been doing really good with us because he knows what to do,” Weaver said. “He knows our pitchers, he knows what to do in practice, [and] what to work on. He’s done this so many times that he just knows what to do with us and [he really] helps us.” 

The team from Tennessee hopes to have a successful run in Williamsport so that they can show off their fun offensive celebrations. Whenever they reach base, they get Mike and Ikes candy from their first-base coach, and if they hit a double or triple, they do another hand motion symbolizing “one team.” 

Weaver said she hopes to record a really big hit and to have an opportunity to pitch on Little League’s biggest stage. When she steps onto those fields for the first time on Friday, she might be filled with a few nerves, but she knows that she will settle in soon after. 

“It is going to be very nerve-wracking but like regionals, I was super nervous in the first game just waiting, but then once I stepped on the field, all of my nerves were gone,” she said. “I’m just really excited.” 

Anna Laible is a teenage reporter for Sports Illustrated Kids and hosts her own podcast called Speak Up Sports.