News Columns & Blogs

Youngsters don’t mind commute to win national title

Perhaps taking the trek up Interstate 75 into Brandon twice a week from Bradenton would have been too much for the average youth baseball player. That is, while practicing or playing games for Manatee County Little League several times a week.

That’s a lot of rippin’ and runnin’ for most people.

Don’t tell Weston Davis and Daniel Schroeder that.

These two kids along with Weston’s mother, Edana, the designated driver, find it worth their while.

Weston and Daniel have the bling to show for their tireless effort, traveling 45 minutes to play AAU baseball for the Bullets Baseball Gold Under-12 team.

Last week, Bullets Baseball Gold won the AAU national baseball tournament at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.

“We had a lot more winning than losing,” Schroeder said. “We won about six tournaments this season.”

The Bullets Baseball Gold won often. The team posted a 61-10 record.

“We got a lot of experience,” said Davis, a pitcher. “We played some of the best teams from all over the country.”

Davis has played for the Bullets Baseball Gold for two seasons, and this was Schroeder’s first year with the team. The pair provided a few heroic moments this year.

In the Cooperstown Dream’s Park Tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y., played only yards from the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame three weeks ago, Davis pitched a complete-game shutout with a bright-blue cast — which had to be covered over with duct tape — on his non-throwing hand.

In Orlando, Schroeder missed the semifinal contest with a gimpy knee, only to return in the championship game and ignite his team with a three-run home run. Schroeder’s dinger was nothing new, being that he hit at least 15 homers during the regular season.

“He can hit them at least 300 feet,” Davis said of Schroeder.

“My teammates call me the ‘Big Rig,’ because I can hit home runs a long way,” Schroeder said.

Bullets Baseball Gold’s national title qualified the team for the New Era National Youth Baseball Championships from Aug. 27-30 in Memphis, Tenn.

“That’s good,” Davis said. “I don’t want to see my new teachers yet.”

On Thursday, Davis and Schroeder sat on a picnic table at Braden River Park sporting gold-plated metal with the red, white and blue writing with the words “AAU National Champions,” dangling on lanyards in Old Glory’s colors.

Let me tell you, these medallions are as heavy as your heaviest paperweight.

Anyway, Schroeder and Davis are great friends and while they just won a national title together, they’ll face each other in the Manatee County District 26 Majors division Little League All-Star Tournament.

Schroeder, 12, will play third base and pitch for Manatee Central and Davis, 12, will suit up for Manatee American, when play gets under way Monday.

“I like winning championships,” Davis said. “I wouldn’t mind winning here before we go to Memphis.”

Ryan T. Boyd, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017.