Some of Cayman’s best young baseball players are off to the Bahamas as the national Travel Team to play in the Caribbean Little League Regional Qualifiers.
They are leaving for Freeport on Friday and return on July 27. Whoever wins this tournament will represent the entire Caribbean in the Little League World Series in the U.S. next month.
Latoya McField is the Little League program and facilities manager who is also helping with arrangements for the travel team.
Her son Shomar, 12, is on the team. Husband Christopher is head coach, and Paul Reynolds and Krystal Arch are assistant coaches.
McField acknowledges that last time they competed in this competition three years ago in St. Thomas, the travel team won only one of three games, but she stressed that winning is not the most important thing.
“To me, the most important thing is the experience that these kids get from these types of tournaments,” she said. “My older son, Sean, who is 17 now, has participated in about six or seven of these types of tournaments and although they always lost, he always wanted to go again.”
McField expects Puerto Rico, Aruba and particularly defending champions Curacao to be the strongest nations of the 12 competing.
The Little League set-up has expanded significantly in recent years, with more than 400 regulars in the leagues that run from January to June.
Coach Arch is only 17, so really like a big sister to the team. She works mostly on their pitching and fielding.
Arch played boys softball until she was 13, then joined the girls league before returning to play with boys and finally into the women’s league. Despite being so young, she already has immense experience. So wrapped in the sport is she that Arch’s ambitions lie in getting a baseball scholarship or a coaching position.
“I expect us to do very well,” Arch said. “We’ve trained really hard and they are very eager to play.”
Jonathan Dacosta is the head trainer who prepares the kids to be physically, mentally and emotionally ready for these types of competitions.
“We want to make sure the kids are really geared up for these types of high-standard events,” he said.
“They are really well advanced. The kids we have currently are mature and they just need the proper guidance, leadership and instruction and they could be very successful.
“It’s a difficult challenge that we’re up against, but I think we will do well.”