LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — With Henderson’s Little League team converging on to Williamsport, PA, to start play this week as the 2023 regional entry into the Little League World Series, it’s hard not to think back to 2014. That’s when the Mountain Ridge squad beat everyone in sight on their way to, eventually, becoming the United States Champions.

They actually lost in that championship game to an Illinois team, eventually dethroned after allegations they had ineligible players on the roster. Upon their triumphant return to Las Vegas, the Mountain Ridge team got their just deserts, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The players were ebullient.

“We feel like celebrities,” 2014 leadoff hitter and second baseman Zach Hare told 8 News Now at the time. “I never thought it would be like this.”

Hare – now 22 – owns a home, has his real estate license, and goes by Zachary. He says the magnitude of what his team accomplished did not hit him until the team landed at McCarran International Airport after the World Series ended. They were soon the centerpiece of a parade and had a monument made in their honor at Mountain Ridge Park in Centennial.

He said the region’s excitement for this year’s Henderson team is everywhere.

“You couldn’t not be excited for them,” Hare said. “True local pride for them. And I’m super super happy that Vegas can make it out there again, Henderson can make it out there again.”

One of Hare’s teammates and a stalwart in his own right, Austin Kryszczuk, now plays baseball for UNLV. In an exchange of messages with 8 News Now, he echoed Hare’s sentiments.

“At 12 years old we weren’t sure how big it was or how influential it would be but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen how special it is for the town,” Kryszczuk said. “There are so many people watching and cheering for you.

Mountain Ridge and Henderson are the only two LLWS teams ever to make the tournament from Nevada.