West Coast Elite Ready for First NYBC Qualifier at TBL Presidents Day NIT
By Casey Ryans
Presidents Day is a day to honor the life and work of the former Presidents of the United States. It is a day of observance of our nation’s great leaders. To the West Coast’s elite travel baseball teams, it is an opportunity to compete to earn a berth to the National Youth Baseball Championships in Yaphank, New York at the end of July. Being the first of three West Coast NYBC qualifiers, The Baseball Legends President’s Day NIT is bringing in the top teams and the best competition in the state of California.
The tournament’s duration is three days with a four game guarantee. Teams in each age division will battle throughout the weekend to be named tournament champions and to earn a berth to the NYBC.
The 8U division is packed with the best 19 teams in the state. The Chino Hills Thunder, who was No. 1 in the country as a 7U team, will be a top contender this weekend. Their deep pitching and tough talent will be showcased throughout the whole tournament as they fight to get to the championship game. Behind the Thunder, SGV Hustle of West Covina, CA will find motivation from having only lost one tournament so far. These two teams will be competing against several top teams including, MVP (Norwalk), NV Titans Blue (Granada Hills), Chino Hills Storm, and the Irvine Colts, who were the 7U PONY World Series Champions.
The 9U majors division has four of the top five teams in California competing in the same bracket. The Cali Gamers of Cypress are currently fighting to be the No. 1 team in the country. The 8U Cecil Fielder champions have yet to miss a beat in their new age group. The Gamers will face the SGV Hustle (West Covina), Westlake Stars (Westlake Village) and the 8U Pony World Series Champions, the Simi Patriots of Simi Valley. These top four teams bring solid talent to the 9U division.
Four teams that earned spots on the Baseball Youth Elite 25 rankings list as 9U teams will lead the 10U division this weekend. The Pico Pride of Pico Rivera sat in the No. 3 spot last year. The Pride has refueled and will rely on their pitchers and defense to get to the final game. SGV Hustle of West Covina, No. 5 on the rankings list, will be stiff competition for the Pride. The No. 7 team, Cali Black Sox, formally Team California, and the No. 11 team, MVP, will also be competing for their chance to play in the NYBC.
Five of the top 10 teams in the state of California will be competing in the 11U division. Easton Elite of Whittier is the tournament favorite going in to this weekend. The Elite, a powerhouse since they were 7, has some of the top hitters and pitchers in the country. MVP Casillas and MVP Rodriguez of Norwalk will both provide tough competition for the Elite. Both MVP teams are well coached and have talented players.
The 12U division is the division to watch this weekend. Although the division has 20 teams, it is not the quantity but the quality that matters. Each of the 20 teams is loaded with the best players on the West Coast all fighting for the No. 1 spot. MVP of Norwalk, the No. 1 team as 11U, is known for dominating their competition. MVP won every major event in the 2014 season and is looking to do the same in 2015. This very talented team will compete against several other top teams in California. Cory Lidle Baseball of San Dimas, a top 3 team in the country, will be looking to end MVP’s winning streak. These teams will also face the Cali Rays of Riverside, Matt Kemp Inner City Elite of LA, San Diego Diamonds, Cali Bandits of Whittier, and the best team in the state of Arizona, Sandlot Baseball.
SGV Hustle of Norwalk leads the 13U division. The Hustle was a very dominant team last year on their way to becoming the 2014 NYBC 12U champions. The Hustle’s depth in pitching and talented defense will be hard to beat. They will face the new “up and coming” team, the San Diego Diamonds Elite. The Diamonds Elite are a brand new select team that is trying to become established as a powerhouse team this weekend. Both teams will face a unique but very solid team from Camarillo, the Flying Squirrels.
The Baseball Legends tournament will be held in six different cities throughout California. One hundred and twenty-four teams will bring their absolute best to the field this weekend. Each team in the 8U to 13U major division is fighting for their chance to represent the state of California at the NYBC.