Eight East Bay SportStars Baseball teammates are going to North Carolina this year. “I thought it would be tough to top last year, but we did!!” exclaimed team GM, Jason Sekany of TPC in Pleasanton, CA in a morning interview Friday. The players, (from U14 and U17 teams), earned berth selections on the roster based on tournament play performance. “For the second year in a row, we have the most representatives in the area (Nor Cal) tournament to go on to the national tournament”, says Sekany. Kids tryout and participate in Prospect Games en route to earning spots on the USA Baseball NTIS (National Team Identification Series) teams, where kids go on to represent the US internationally.
2012 Team records: U14 went 3-1 in tournament play; U17 went 2-1 in the Allstar games
U17 Players Making the trip to NC
Cameron Cotton (P) – Athenian
Steven Farinaro (P) – Head Royce
Jacob Payne (P) – Granada
Michael Echavia (P) ““ Amador
Michael Perri (SS) ““ Bishop O’Dowd
Cameron Sanots (SS/2B) ““ California
Luke Huerta (Util) ““ Castro Valley
Justin Flatt (1B/OF) ““ De La Salle
U14 NC-bound players:
Jacob Rebar (P) – West High (Tracy)
Dominic Soscalina (SS) – LIvermore
By CHACE BRYSON | Editor
The SportStars are back.
That’s right, the East Bay’s all-star baseball club bearing our name will once again field a pair of teams to compete in the National Team Identification Series (NTIS).
The NTIS, which is also in its second year of existence, is hosted by USA Baseball as a means of discovering players for its teams of various age levels. It begins at the regional level and ends at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina.
In its first year, the SportStars fielded teams in three different age groups and sent a total of 13 players onto the national portion of the series. Those players included Chris Flexen, Colby Wright, Vince Fernandez, Dylan Hecht, Dylan Isquirdo, Marcus Williams, Erik Nielson, Jacob Rebar, Dominic Foscalina, Nick Allman, Justin Hooper, James Smart and Christopher Castillo.
Thirteen players from an original pool of about 60 kids was a remarkable start for the SportStars, who were founded by Jason Sekany of The Pitching Center and Cabernet Indoor Sports in Livemore.
“I thought it went fantastically well (last year),” Sekany said. “The players and parents and everybody that was involved in the East Bay SportStars program really seemed to benefit from the experience, and that includes the kids who weren’t selected to move on.
“I had several parents come to me afterward and tell that it was the best baseball event that they’ve been a part of in their kids playing days. Being that it was the first time for the event, to get that sort of response was fantastic.”
This year’s Northern California NTIS qualifiers are being held for the 14U and 17U levels.
The 14U division will go first, with the showcase tournament being played June 19-20 at the Cooperstown Dreams Park in Manteca and Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton. The SportStars 14U tryouts have already taken place and the roster is expected to be finalized by June 8.
Sekany said he was pleased with the talent, and mentioned that a few familiar faces would be back from last year’s 13U team. That includes both Foscalina and Rebar.
The 17U tournament is July 10-12 with games at College of Marin and Sir Francis Drake High in San Anselmo. The SportStars expect to have tryouts for that team during the second week of June. Organizing that workout has been tougher due to timing issues.
For the kids who are selected to move on to the national stage as part of the Northern California all-star team, the tournaments at the USA baseball complex will be held from Aug. 24-26 and Sept. 7-9. Once they get to the national NTIS event, they will be competing for an opportunity to be invited to 15U and 18U National Team Trials.
According to the USA Baseball website, from the three age groups (there is also a 16U NTIS), USA Baseball will name a minimum of eight players to the 2013 18U National Team Trials; a minimum of eight players to the 2013 17U National Team Development Program (17U NTDP); and a minimum of 16 players to the 2013 15U National Team Trials.
Flexen, who just completed his senior year at Newark Memorial High, was the SportStars’ biggest success story a year ago. He will be attending the 18U Team Trails this year based his performance in North Carolina last August.
Sekany and his staff are constantly evaluating how to improve. “We realized that in respects to fundraising we need have to get an even bigger jump on things,” Sekany said. “I think what we’re realizing is this is really a year-round project.”
Sekany has the SportStars players using eTeam Sponsor’s electronic donation system to help raise funds. This year the team also plans to have a fundraising auction featuring items donated by past success stories at The Pitching Center and other friends of the program.
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