Nat'l Team Champs

USA Baseball Announces Changes to National Team Championships, Addition of 16U NTDP

November 2, 2017

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball announced on Thursday multiple changes to the National Team Championships, including the addition of a 16U age group at the annual event in Arizona, as well as the addition of a 16U National Team Development Program (NTDP) to the national team programming slate for 2018.

The 2018 National Team Championships in Arizona will start on June 15 and will now feature a 16U age group in addition to its 14U, 15U and 17U age groups. The 17U tournament will take place from June 15-22, followed by the 15U age group from June 22-29, and finally, the 14U and 16U tournaments will be played concurrently from June 30-July 7.

"We are excited to enhance the National Team Championships with the inclusion of the 16U age group starting in 2018," Senior Director of Baseball Operations Ashley Bratcher said, "Given USA Baseball's history with this age group, we know the talent is outstanding at this level, so we look forward to adding it to the already-elite National Team Championships player-pool."

USA Baseball had a long successful history at the 16U level through its 16U National Team, which competed from 1997-2011 before the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) changed its youth championships age discipline to 15U. In the fifteen-year history of the program, Team USA made it to the championship game of every international tournament it appeared in, taking home 11 gold medals - including nine in World Championships - and three silvers. In addition, eight of those teams went undefeated in international play.

In connection with the addition of a 16U age group at the National Team Championships, USA Baseball has also added a 16U discipline to its National Team Development Program for the 2018 season; providing national team-level opportunities to all youth players ages 14-18.

The 16U NTDP will feature athletes selected from the 15U National Team Identification Series (NTIS), the newly created 16U National Team Championships and through recommendations from professional scouts, USA Baseball task force members and collegiate, high school and youth coaches. Like the existing 14U and 17U NTDPs, the 16U program will invite 40 athletes to participate in skill development sessions, which include guest speakers/instructors and Stars vs. Stripes intrasquad games.

"The National Team Development Program provides an unparalleled national team-level experience and we're excited to expand that opportunity to players at the 16U age level," said Paul Seiler, Executive Director and CEO of USA Baseball. "This addition will also allow athletes to stay in touch with the USA Baseball organization between the national team age levels, developing their skills before possible consideration on a future national team.

"The exposure to future national team staffs, as well as college and professional scouts, the NTDP offers is invaluable for these athletes as they look to grow their game and compete internationally in the future."

At age levels where there are not international competitions, the National Team Development Program offers an unmatched developmental opportunity to better prepare athletes for potential future national teams and ingrain them in the USA Baseball organization. It also serves to help young players accelerate their maturation and readiness for the next step in their respective baseball careers.

Since the program's inception in 2012, 64 national team development program attendees have earned spots on national team rosters at the 15U, 18U and Collegiate national team levels. Additionally, in the five years that NTDP participants have been eligible, 21 players have been selected in the first five rounds of the MLB First Year Player Draft.

In addition to the changes at the National Team Championships in Arizona, the event in Florida will feature an enhanced schedule in 2018. The 14U, 15U and 17U tournaments will now be played in separate weeks, reducing the total number of days each age group will participate than in previous years however still providing teams the same amount of games.

The National Team Championships in Florida will also start on June 15 with its 15U tournament from June 15-20. The 17U age group will follow, competing from June 21-26, and the event will finish with the 14U age group, which will run from June 27-July 1.

For more information on the National Team Championships and the NTDP, check and follow @USABChamps_East, @USABChamps_West and @USABaseballNTDP on Twitter. Registration for the 2018 National Team Championships will open on Friday, November 10.

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14U Champs

TB SoCal Blanks PBA to win 14U West Gold Medal

July 7, 2017

PEORIA, Ariz. - Following suit of their 17U team, who also won gold in 2017, TB SoCal put up a five-spot in the third inning and never looked back as they defeated PBA, 8-0, on Friday afternoon at the Peoria Sports Complex.

Aidan Berger and Myles Smith led the charge for TB SoCal, with both contributing with two hits on the afternoon. Jonah Storey added three RBI in the victory to clinch gold for the southern California team.

Pitching was a strength early on for both teams, as the offenses were held in check. It wasn't until the third inning that TB SoCal showed some promise, loading the bases with one out. It started when Cooper Rons took the seventh pitch of his at-bat and laced a single to get the ball rolling. Four singles, an error and a walk later, TB found themselves with a 5-0 lead.

TB SoCal tacked on three more runs the following inning, starting off with a line drive straight up the middle for a leadoff baserunner. Through four innings, TB held a comfortable eight run lead.

On the bump, Rons was lights out for his team, scattering just one hit in four innings while striking out two. TB called to the bullpen to begin their fifth and final frame, with Yuretich making the jog to the bump. He too shut down the potent PBA bats, tossing one inning while allowing just one hit to clinch the program's second gold medal of the tournament.

TB SoCal's 17U team defeated Team California 2018 by a final of 7-4 just two weeks ago to clinch a gold as well.

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14U Champs

Gibbs, McKay Leads BPA at the National Team Championships (West)

July 2, 2017

PHOENIX, Ariz. - They lace up their cleats, zip up their pants and throw on their jerseys with "BPA" emblazoned in bright yellow font across their chest just like their teammates. They buckle their shin guards, slide their chest protectors over their heads and pull their masks on just like any other catcher. There's just one slight difference between them and the other 1,000 athletes in the 2017 14U National Team Championships West.

They're girls.

Maycen Gibbs and Jamie MacKay both play behind the dish for BPA 14U, a team hailing from California. The two have been playing the sport since t-ball, with their fathers playing big roles in their starting and eventual continuation of playing baseball, despite most young girls normally transitioning to softball.

"I started playing when I was young a lot younger, and I just fell in love with it and never switched over," Gibbs said. "I just kept competing at this level and it's really fun."

Participating in a sport dominated by men, the two love the game, but don't have many female figures to look up to. However, they do have one group they admire: the USA Baseball Women's National Team. Last summer, MacKay and Gibbs attended a development camp put on by the Women's National Team in California.

"Last summer, I did a camp they have and it turned out to be a lot of fun," MacKay said. "I really hope to try out for them one day because they inspire me to keeping going."

And keep on going they will.

Neither Gibbs nor MacKay have any intention of hanging up their cleats after graduating from high school. With their sights set on college ball, both hope to gain exposure through playing in travel ball tournaments just like the National Team Championships West.

"As a scout, gender doesn't matter to me," said Steve Butler, a national team scout and once coach for the 14U National Team Development Program (NTDP) and 15U National Team Trials. The ultimate goal is to bring home a gold for the United States, and whether they're a boy or a girl, if they can help us win gold, they'll take the field for us."

Confidence has been a key factor for the girls, as their road to the tournament hasn't been paved smooth. Both have experienced hardships, whether it be from teammates, coaches or opponents. MacKay offered a piece of advice to younger girls who are struggling to keep going:

"Never give up, and don't let other people push you around," MacKay said. "Do what you love and stick with it, because I did, and I love coming here and playing in tournaments like these because it's a ton of fun."

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15U Champs

BPA Defeats GBG Marucci Navy, 8-6, to Win 15U West

July 1, 2017

PEORIA, Ariz. - BPA jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and never looked back, as they defeated GBG Marucci Navy, 8-6, to clinch a gold medal on Friday afternoon at the Peoria Sports Complex.

BPA opened the game with back-to-back singles, and jumped to a three run lead after they followed with a double and a triple.

Both teams were fairly quiet until the bottom of the third inning, when GBG threatened with two outs, the bases loaded and their heart of the order up. Max Rajcic pulled through, knocking a line drive to center field to plate two runs and chip away at the deficit.

However, BPA responded with three runs the following inning by capitalizing off three walks. Using two singles and a double, BPA sent three runners across the plate to pull to a 6-2 lead.

GBG Marucci Navy would go on to score four runs in the proceeding three frames, but BPA would tack on two to hold a comfortable two run lead. They would be retired in order in the final frame, including a dramatic full count strikeout to end the game.

Highlighting BPA's lineup was centerfielder Petey Halpin, who had a huge 3-for-4 night at the plate. Halpin also knocked in two runs and scored one, and was followed closely behind by Jared Jones who added two hits and a RBI of his own in the win.

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17U Champs

TB SoCal Adidas Wins 17U National Team Championships (West)

June 23, 2017
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Team California 2018 0 1 1 0 2 0 0 4 5 3
TB SoCal Adidas 0 0 0 2 4 1 X 7 9 0

PEORIA, Ariz. - In a back-and-for affair that saw three lead changes and one tie, TB SoCal Adidas defeated Team California 2018, 7-4, on Friday afternoon at the Peoria Sports Complex.

Team California's starting pitcher, Connor Chapman, looked untouchable early on, retiring the first 11 batters he faced. Team California 2018 manufactured insurance runs for their pitcher in the top of the second, knocking a leadoff double and scoring him off a sacrifice fly to pull an early 1-0 lead. Ty Matsunami sent a RBI single into the outfield an inning later, tacking on another run for Team California 2018.

Connor Chapman of California held TB SoCal Adidas relatively in check for the first three frames, as it wasn't until the fourth inning that they scored their first run off Chapman. Lacing two singles with two outs, TB SoCal Adidas tied the game up at two apiece after a balk and a throwing error. Chapman retaliated by catching Keaton Carattini looking for the third out, but the damage was already done.

Helping himself out on the mound, Chapman sent a leadoff double into the alley in the fourth. Connor Henriques sent him home with a two-run home run into the bullpen in left field to give California a 4-2 lead.

That's all the team scored, however, as Jake Thau of TB SoCal Adidas entered with one out in the fifth inning and shut Team California 2018 down. Thau pitched 2.1 innings of perfect baseball, allowing no runs off no hits while striking out three.

TB SoCal Adidas increased their lead with a three-spot in the bottom of the fifth using four hits, a sacrifice fly and an error. Grant Holman demolished a leadoff home run in the bottom of the sixth to bring the score to the final 7-4.

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