Babe Ruth Caribbean Championship set to begin this Sunday

THE Babe Ruth Caribbean Championship and Invitationals will return to The Bahamas for the third time this Sunday at the Andre Rodgers National Baseball Stadium and the Baillou Hills Softball Complex. 

The five-day event, which is supported by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Ministry of Tourism, the Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF) and National Sports Authority, will continue from Sunday, July 7 until July 11.

The regional baseball extravaganza features two divisions, including a 12-and-under (12U) division and 16-and-under (16U) division. A combined 14 teams across both divisions are expected to commute to the capital for the summer tournament. Greg Burrows Sr, Caribbean region commissioner for Babe Ruth, was pleased to have the support of other Caribbean countries and is hoping to see The Bahamas return to its winning ways.

“I appreciate all of the countries that signed up this year. We want to continue to try and grow this tournament. I hope and pray that we continue on with the support from the government, Minister of Sports Mario Bowleg, the Ministry of Tourism and the support of the Prime Minister, who is a baseball guy himself. We lost last year and the year before we won in both divisions. I hope this year we return to the winning record we had in the first year we had this tournament,” he said.

The 12U division will feature some action from teams from Anguilla, Aruba, The Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Cayman Islands and Jamaica. 

With Hurricane Beryl posing a threat to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, officials are carefully monitoring the situation to determine if they will still be able to compete.

For the six 12U teams the stakes are high. The winner of that division will book their ticket to Branson, Missouri for their spot in the Cal Ripken Major70 World Series hosted at Ballparks of America. 

The 16U teams will hail from Aruba, The Bahamas, Belize, Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, USA MJBL, USA South and Venezuela, who will be coached by Johan Santana- former starting pitcher for the New York Mets and Minnesota Twins.

The Bahamas will have a direct berth in the tournament thanks to its hosting privileges.

Burrows Sr acknowledged that he is hoping to see the 12U team not only win at home but emerge as champions of the Cal Ripken Major70 World Series like The Bahamas did in 2010.

“We have been running after a championship that we won in 2010 at the World Series. I was told by Greg that we have a very good chance this year of doing very well in the World Series. I hope this is just the next step before we get to that level,” he said.

Greg Burrows Jr will serve as the head coach of the 12U club and is confident in their abilities to win the tourney.

“We have been putting in a lot of work. The 12U team is ready to go and the 16U team is ready to go. I think we have a strong team this year and we have some guys that will be showcasing for some professional teams that will be coming in to watch the event. Our 12U team is getting a lot of talk about it on the international market because we have scouts coming to see the 12-and unders. 

“It is an encouraging group and I think it would be great for the public to come and see them play. They are very talented, extremely passionate about the game and hard working. It has been a pleasure working with this group and I look forward to what the next week brings,” he said.

The Bahamas’ 12U and 16U teams finished in the fifth and third positions respectively at last year’s Babe Ruth Regional Championships. Despite coming up short to a degree, Burrows Jr assured the public that both teams are equipped to come out with the win this time around. 

“We follow the professional training programme. I think with the 12U and 16U teams conditioning, strength, on-field work we have covered everything that we need to cover to be competitive. I think in the game itself there are a lot of variables that decide if you win or lose. The boys are ready to play. If the weather is good, umpiring is good and we are having fun we are gonna win. We look forward to the competition and that is what it is all about more than anything,” he said.

Ray Stubbs, head coach of the 16U team, was equally as confident that the team’s preparations will translate into good results.

“It is good to be here to represent our country in this year’s Babe Ruth tournament. Our boys are prepared and they have put in the work. We will show our talents on the field,” he said

Kelsie Johnson-Sills, acting director of sports at MOYSC, encouraged the teams to represent the country well and in winning fashion. “I would like to congratulate the young men who will be selected to represent the country once again. For those persons who will be selected for the first time, it’s an honour to represent your country. It’s an honour to be named to a national team…Some of the persons that you will be playing now, if you were to make it to the majors or to the minors, you’re going to see them because not only you are the future, they’re also the future. I want us to win. Let’s remember that The Bahamas is a winning squad. Let’s swing for the fences, let’s get some home runs and have a good tournament,” she said. 

Tickets can be purchased at the venues at $10 for adults and $5 kids.


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