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The reason the North Fort Myers Babe Ruth program has been so successful the past few years is because of how they teach the kids to be competitive at an early age.
The league’s 6U All-Star Team won the District 15 championship recently in a tournament played throughout Lee County (though not in North Fort Myers), which has become a traditional routine for North.
“This is their first experience with postseason baseball, and it’s fun because they make so much progress from once the regular season ends to All-stars,” said Nate Sund, league president. “They have a few more practices a week and the team is working together. They did such a great job.”
After taking their lumps in a tournament in Sarasota the previous week. The 6U team learned its lessons and took that experience to districts. They hadn’t played any other leagues until then, playing instead against the other 6U teams at North.
The spoils of the 6U program’s success works its way all the way up the North Babe Ruth ladder, through 8U, 10U, 12U and 14U, where all those teams have been very competitive even as more cities and programs leave Little League to play Babe Ruth ball, with its loosened rules that looks more like the baseball adults play.
Also, unlike Little League, Babe Ruth 6U games matter. They keep track of outs and the score and teams win and lose. Sund said they don’t cry about it, but embrace it and handle losing well.
“We adopted that competitive nature years ago when my kid played 6U. We’ve seen throughout the years, the kids playing good baseball in the older divisions,” Sund said. “The 10U squad played well and they played in the state tournament when they were 6. It’s a tradition to have a competitive team and it builds a lot for the kids the foundation for years to come.”
8U had qualifiers in Ocala last weekend and struggled against some of the highest-level competition they’ve faced.
The 10U program has two teams, an A and a B, with the A team finishing third among 10 leagues after a 4-2 tournament record.
The B team, more of a developmental squad, also competed well, though they didn’t have similar success.
The 12U All-Stars won a game, but got eliminated, while the 14U All-Stars lost a best-two-out-of-three series, getting swept in two close games.
“The teams were competitive and that’s what you want teams to strive to be. Overall, the goal is to get better and be exposed to the high-level competition,” Sund said. “The experience they need from this is going to help them in their careers as they get older. We want them to play for a high school team and if they go beyond that, that’s extra.”
The 6U team will advance to states next weekend in Ocala.