Another summer, another potential trip to the big time.
Annie Tarte is one of three local girls who will compete in the Pitch, Hit and Run regional at Tropicana Field Sunday. Annie, who won the national competition in the 11-12 division last summer at the Major League Baseball All Star game in St. Louis, will attempt to repeat the feat this weekend.
"Annie is super excited," said Steve Tarte, her father. "She will have experience in her favor."
Annie will again compete in the 11-12 division along with fellow Bloomingdale Little Leaguers Sloan Hammons (9-10) and Brianna Hazel (13-14). MLB's Pitch, Hit and Run program is a skills competition that has been held for the past 14 years for ages 7-14. To reach Sunday's regional, all the girls have advanced through local and sectional competition. Should any of the girls win their age group Sunday and then qualify as one of the top three across the country for that division, they will earn a trip to compete for the national title this summer at the MLB All Star Game in Anaheim, Calif.
Florida's region is divided in half with the northern part of the state competing at Tropicana Field and representing the Tampa Bay Rays. The southern half of the state will do the same for the Florida Marlins in Sun Life Stadium. Last year's regionals were held in Orlando. But Steve Tarte believes his daughter will be less affected than most thanks to her trip to Busch Stadium last year.
"Most of the girls will probably have a "Wow' factor when they get on the field at the Trop," he said. "But Annie won the whole thing in Busch Stadium so that should help her confidence."
Annie will also be competing this year at the top of her age group — she won nationals last year as an 11-year-old.
"There's a big jump in motor skills and growth for 11 to 12 (years old)," Steve Tarte said.
Annie's win last summer at nationals was the second consecutive year a girl from the Florida Fire, a travel softball club based out of the Bloomingdale Little League, reached the finals. Raelynn Nichols made the trip to nationals in 2008 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
Other Local News: The Fishhawk U10 boys soccer team recently won the Competitive Division at the West Pasco Junior Showcase Tournament. The team, which earned victories against clubs from Gulf Coast, Wesley Chapel and Hernando, outscored their opponents 18-4 on the way to the championship. The wins ran their record to 13-3-3 for the season, and coach Carl Spirio said he was pleased with the boys' play during the tourney.
"Our team moved the ball well and created numerous scoring chances while limiting the other team's scoring opportunities," he said.
The Fishhawk U10 squad is also one of six teams from the club to compete at the prestigious Disney Memorial Day Soccer Shootout this weekend at Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista. The tournament, which featured more than 300 teams last year, is one of the largest in the country.
The Fishhawk Soccer Club will also hold open tryouts for its U9-U14 select programs June 1-6. South Florida will also be running the USF Advanced Day Camp at the Fishhawk Soccer Fields July 19-23.
More Soccer: The Brandon FC Flames will hold tryouts for its U8-U19 select soccer teams June 1-6 at the J.C. Handly Athletic Complex.
Have a local sports story that should appear in the Times? Contact Brandon Wright at [email protected] for consideration.