Commentary | Summer of excellence for Manatee County youth teams

July 30, 2013 

Manatee County is a hotbed when it comes to grooming future professional stars in the gamut of sports.

And that starts at the youth level.

So far this summer, the area has seen several county teams advance past local competitions and into bigger tournaments.

And they've achieved success, too.

The Palmetto Youth Center's Trojans basketball team is one such example.

Their 17-and-younger Division II youth team recently captured the USSSA Southeast Regional Championships tournament title in Suwannee, Ga., and now head to the National Championship in Kansas City, scheduled for Aug. 9-11.

But to get to Kansas City, the organization is fundraising to shoulder the cost of such a trip. They're seeking a total of 120 donors to donate $100 apiece to send the team to the national tournament.

For more information, contact PYC athletic director Tony Stephens at 722-0783 or visit the PYC website at

In addition to the youth basketball team, several youth baseball clubs made deep postseason runs this summer.

At the Cal Ripken level, the 9-and-younger and 12-and-younger (70-foot bases) made strong runs toward a state championship.

The 9-and-younger squad finished runner-up in Florida to Okeeheelee, losing twice to them - once in the winner's bracket semifinal and the second time in the state championship game.

The 12-and-younger club advanced farther, winning the Florida state title and then winning its first two games at the Southeast Regional before losing to Winchester, Va.

Manatee proceeded to win two more games in the loser's bracket before falling to Winchester again in an elimination game just shy of the re

gional championship.

At the Little League level, Braden River's juniors team and Buffalo Creek's 10-11s each made it to the state tourney. Braden River won one game, while Buffalo Creek -- making history as the first team from its league to ever advance to the state tourney -- made the semifinals after winning two pool play games.

Speaking of Buffalo Creek, those players comprise the Parrish Piranhas travel team that recently competed in Myrtle Beach, S.C., at the Triple Crown Baseball Summer Nationals.

Competing in the 11-and-younger division, the club went 2-1 in pool play before losing twice in the bracket portion.

Another travel team, the Bradenton BEACH DAWGS had some recent players try out for the Florida State USSSA team that is heading to South Carolina in early August for the Southeast Showcase event.

Only two of the six who tried out made the club. They are Lucas Hartman and Logan O'Leary.

Just 24 players in the entire state made the Florida squad, which faces other teams from the region beginning Aug. 3.

Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017 or via email at Follow him on Twitter @Jason_Dill.

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