The Hot Corner...
Well it's Thursday and for most people that means "Friday eve" but to us travel baseball crazies that means; who we playing, where they from, who have they played, who should we throw Saturday, is there a consolation bracket and of course the latest edition of the Hot Corner!
So this weekend is kind of a big deal here in Fresno... in the travel ball world there are some very established and storied organizations and you see many will be here in Fresno this weekend to compete in Perfect Game's "Best of the Best" event.
Although our area is accustomed to high level baseball at the high school level, we simply do not get to see this much talent here locally in one weekend at the youth level. Hopefully its a sign of what's to come...
So let's get to it... MVP Hustle, Lamorinda, 3D West, Club All-Star, are all big name travel baseball organizations on the West Coast and they will be well represented in most age groups this weekend. A lot of respect has to be given to the Central Valley teams that have jumped in to see where they stand. The Valley will be represented in each age group. #valleypride
The 14u bracket will be one of the most competitive divisions from top to bottom. Not only will it be competitive but the two Valley teams, Bakersfield Roadrunners and South Valley Prospects, both have a good chance of taking the whole thing. Both teams feature aces throwing in the lower to mid 80s.
Team Combat reigned supreme in NorCal last year but rumor has it, they aren't coming loaded. So its tough to predict how they will do without all their guns at their disposal.
3D West will have players from all over meeting up here in Fresno...including some local valley players... with our sneak peak at the roster...they will be tough to beat.
The bracket is really tough to call and will come down to who has their ace available when it counts late Sunday. With a consolation bracket to deal with, coaches may panic or it may be necessary to throw the ace in on Saturday to secure at least 1 win to avoid the dreaded consolation game.
1. 3D West (Phoenix)
2. Bakersfield Roadrunners
3. South Valley Prospects
4. Team Combat (Brentwood, CA)
5. Swagger Athletics Red (Palo Alto)
6. Lamorinda Warriors (Alamo, CA)
7. Kali Bees (San Jose)
There is just something about the 12 year old division... the innocence still exists, grandma and grandpa still come to watch, and its the pinnacle of youth baseball in American Culture. The Little league World Series, Cooperstown Dreams Park, top travel organizations (USSSA, National Youth Baseball Championships etc) televise this age group...and well we have a great 12u bracket coming to Fresno this weekend!!
The heavy, heavy favorites are the MVP-Hustle who were the clear cut, without a doubt, best 11u team in the nation last year and are predicted hands down to be the best again this year.
The organization out of Los Angeles had 5 team USA players, won the USSSA Demarini Elite World Series, and basically every other tournament they played in. Rumor has it that they may even be bringing Kibru Pam... if you don't know who that is, you will soon enough.
He pitched the championship game for team USA vs Mexico to bring home the gold and earn the tournament MVP, he was just named a finalist for Sports Illustrated kid of the year...and oh yeah he throws 81 mph from 50 feet! Quick math says that's equivalent to 102 mph from 60'6". Good luck boys...
So who else is in 12u, anybody going to challenge MVP-Hustle?
Lamorinda Raiders are no slouches in this age group either but then again neither are Club All-Star, and West Coast Federals who have all battled it out on many occasions. Lamorinda's 11u year came to end losing by a walkoff in the San Diego World Series. So these teams are all battle tested.
The two teams representing the Valley are Tri-County Baseball, fresh off a tournament win, and the Bakersfield Starz who just got back from the Coast after winning their weekend tournament. Both teams can compete with just about anybody.
There is A LOT of talent in this bracket and mark our words the enormous walls set at 300'-320' at Granite Park will not prevent these boys from hitting it out.
1. MVP-Hustle (Norwalk, CA)
2. Lamorinda Raiders (Monterey)
3. Tri-County Baseball
4. Club All-Star (Stockton)
5. West Coast Federals (San Mateo)
6. Bakersfield Starz
7. Kali Bees (San Jose)
The 11u bracket will also be very competitive with NorCal teams that are very familiar with each other and have traded wins all come in as potential champions. The CV Patriots out of Bakersfield will be representing the Valley. Although, they are a scrappy team with a lot of wins here locally they just aren't battle tested yet...they will be after this though and we guarantee this will provide the motivation to get them to the next level.
The Hype, Lamorinda and West Coast Federals have all beat up on each other over the year...the MVP-Hustle Casillas is the wild card in this group. Are they coming loaded? That's the question...
2. West Coast Federals
4. MVP-Hustle- Casillas
5. CV Patriots
Last but not least is the 10u bracket. I tip my hat to the two Valley teams that jumped in this one. It's going to be a battle for them but as we said earlier, hopefully it provides the motivation going forward to get to the next level... with that said MVP-Hustle Garcia comes in as the heavy favorite in this age group with an 8-0 record this fall down south thus far.. while the Hype and West Coast Federals will try to spoil.
1. MVP-Hustle Garcia
2. West Coast Federals
4. Fresno GoldDiggers
5. CS Bears
There you have it.. the first Perfect Game event in Fresno in a nutshell. Very competitive for the most part, Central Valley teams well represented and should compete, and hopefully this is the start of something special in the Valley... high level youth baseball.
Check back next Tuesday for our second edition of the Coach's Corner as we RECAP the weekend and you can find out if Kibru Pam made the trek and who took home the hardware....