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North 6U team heads to states

July 5, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The North Fort Myers Babe Ruth 6U All-Star baseball team is heading to the baseball state championship.

Starting Wednesday and going through Sunday, the 4-6-year-old team will be in Lake City, something unexpected from previous years, or even this year.

Jerry Niesman, head coach of the 6U team, said the team traveled to Lake City a few weeks ago and finished first in its division against about 18 other teams from around the state. A similar tournament was held in Ocala with the same number of teams.

Article Photos

Top row, from left, coaches Dale Jamison, Jerry Neisman, James Lefko. Middle row: Caden Temple, Dylan Jamison, Lily Condappa, Justin Ruiz, Trey Niesman, Kyle Rische, Jack Jamison, Jonathan Barker. Bottom row: Reagan Marks, Gavin Estes, Noah Lefko, Caleb Sund, Andres Carraaquel, Mason Estes.

Niesman and his coaches assembled and prepared a competitive 6U team from the league's three teams to compete in three tournaments statewide, including one in Sarasota as a prep for the first Lake City tournament.

"None of us had done a tournament like this before other than some of the coaches with the older kids. We had some travel ball teams in Sarasota," Niesman said. "We try not to put too much pressure on them. They know we're all excited about it."

To get ready, this age group played official tournament T-Ball rules during the regular season for the first time. They made defensive plays and ran the bases.

"We're making plays, playing by the rules and keeping score. Other than hitting off a tee, it's real baseball," Niesman said. "There aren't a lot of teams playing by these rules at this age range."

This year was expected to be a learning year, with it being the first time they played with rules, but Niesman was pleasantly surprised.

"None of us had competed using these rules. It made it a whole lot more fun and exciting for me," Niesman said. "Last year the kids hit the ball, ran around the field and we didn't really teach them the game. There was no point going after the ball because we all stopped at the next base."

As you can imagine, these trips are very expensive. Niesman said their sponsor, Futral's, donated a Yeti cooler for a fundraiser raffle, and have looked for other sponsors through local businesses so they can be placed on a 4- foot by 8-foot promotional banner to be displayed outside the team dugout during the tournament.

Niesman said no matter what happens, it's sure to be a great experience for everyone.

"It will be great memories this year. We teach them valuable life lessons about winning and losing and if you're not successful, how you go out and do it better as a team," Niesman said.



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