David Wilson

Suncoast Travel Ball returns for winter baseball season

After less than a month off, Suncoast Travel Ball baseball is back, and the 2017 spring season kicks off with its first tournament this weekend in Bradenton and Sarasota. Nineteen teams from either Bradenton or Sarasota fill six age divisions Saturday and Sunday for the Suncoast Travel Ball (STB) Winter Warm Up.

Six facilities across Manatee and Sarasota counties will be in use for the two days. Bradenton’s G.T. Bray Park, Braden River Park and Lakewood Ranch Baseball Complex will serve as the Manatee County sights, and Sarasota Cal Ripken Baseball, Sarasota Babe Ruth Complex and Twin Lakes Park are Sarasota’s contributions.

The 11U AA field has the largest local representation with the Cortez Stone Crabs, LWR Sharks, PowerMax Baseball 11U, SRQ Vipers and Sarasota’s Sting Young Guns all competing. The 13U open field adds four more teams with Florida Burn 13U, Sarasota Vipers 13U Gold, Sarasota’s Orlando Scorpions West and Rebels Baseball, with players from both Sarasota and Bradenton.

Other teams from the region who have committed to play in the tournament include Florida Meteors, Orlando Scorpions West 2021, Mustangs Elite, Havoc, 10U SRQ Vipers, Sting Select, Pro Buff Elite Sports Hurricanes, Braden River Bandits and Sarasota Shock.

Tournaments will be getting underway around the state this weekend, but a handful of STB teams have already taken the field in 2017. The STB Tampa Area Spring League had its first two days of games Friday and Saturday, although no teams from the county are slated to play in the league. The Titans, Sarasota Shock 13U and Sting Young Guns are the three closest, and the Sting was the only team to play during the opening weekend, posting an 0-2 record.

Bradenton Motorsports Park kicks off 2017

For the 12th straight year, Bradenton Motorsports Park (BMP) will begin its year with the United States Street Nationals, making Manatee County the destination for the first major heads-up drag racing event of the 2017 season.

Bradenton Motorsports bills the year-opening event as “The Outlaw Winter Warm Up,” to give racers a chance for preseason preparation before the spring months bring the start of the busiest portion of the drag season. Races will be run in 12 classes, including pro drag radial warz for only the second time ever at U.S. Street Nationals. Scott Husted and Frank Mewshaw, two of the nation’s top racers, will be competing in the limited drag radial class.

Competition begins Saturday, but a test session begins at noon on Friday. Qualifying begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday and the final day of competition kicks off at 9 a.m. on Sunday. The entire event can be streamed at SpeedVideo.com and single-day ticket prices begin at $20.

David Wilson: 941-745-7057, @DBWilson2