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Jul 27, 2004

Juvenile softballers prepare for C.A. tourney

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The sport has made a recent resurgence based on some unexpected international success. With the next test for women’s softball taking the form of the region?s juvenile championships, News 5′s Patrick Jones shot and wrote the following scouting report.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

The distinctive sound of bat and ball making contact at Rogers Stadium on a Saturday morning could only mean one thing: something big is happening in softball. And it is. After a long break, Belize?s Under Nineteen team is preparing to take part in the first Central American Juvenile Tournament. President of the Belize Softball Federation David Cruz says the national team hopes to perform well in the five-country event scheduled for the first weekend of August in El Salvador.

David Cruz, President, Belize Softball Federation

?Putting them together as a team has not been easy because of the distance we have to put them together. But we are hoping that our manager and coaches will make it and we have just about a week not to really put a good team together and do a good representation for Belize.?

The team was chosen on July fourth and since then, Manager Raymond Garbutt, assisted by Coach Delcie Lizama and trainer Luis Ortega have been hard at work with the girls to get them into shape. But with just about a week to go before they take part in their first international event, Lizama says, there are a lot of rough edges that need attention.

Delcie Lizama, Coach

?We still have to be teaching and showing some of the girls some of the basic fundamentals of the game, but we are working hard. We have approximately a week to go, and we?ll continue to work long hours of the day with them.?

?We don?t really know what the competition is like out there but we?ll try to get them in the best possible shape.?

And that includes getting the pitchers to hit their targets, the catchers to understand how to command the pitching staff, and the fielders getting comfortable in their positions. For Garbutt, past experiences have given him a starting point.

Raymond Garbutt, Manager, National U-19 Team

?We know that the Central America teams, they love to play the ball around on the diamond. So we are working on our infield to attack these plays, these slaps, and bunts and things like that.?

Delcie Lizama

?A lot of the girls are small, they are very fast so I Believe we?ll be doing a lot of bunting and running to get them on the base. We do not have a lot of big hitters, so we will use the speed and their small size to our advantage.?

But while the strategies for competing in El Salvador have been worked out on the diamond, getting there is proving to be more of a challenge for the Belize Softball Federation. Cruz says with the departure date fast approaching, support for the team is still Luke-warm.

David Cruz

?We have been trying to get support, especially financial support. Let me make it clear, and this I am saying to the Belizean people, we are travelling by road leaving on the fourth of August and it about an eighteen hour ride to El Salvador with stops at the border. The Federation ha snot raised all the funds that is necessary to meet the cost of the bus. We are still short and we have tried private sector and we know that so many people are asking private sector for support, it hasn?t happened. We?ve tried government and found that it?s almost the same situation. And so we are asking the Belizean people, if they?d like to provide some support to their own players from their region.?

But the financial position of the team is the least of the worries for these girls. They are enjoying themselves, and looking forward to carrying the red, blue and white to El Salvador.

Denise Glenn, Infielder, National U-19 Team

?Well I?ll tell you I feel great because I am representing my country.?

Tamira Martinez, Pitcher, National U-19 Team

It?s been good and we work out very hard.?

For Denise Glenn, who plays on the infield with the Independence United senior team, participation in next month?s tournament could only enhance her ability.

Denise Glenn

?Yes, it will help me a lot because I am getting more practice and I am learning a lot more and I surely think it would help me a lot.?

Raymond Garbutt

?My assessment is that they are talented players, but they need a lot of workout together.?

Patrick Jones

?How do you plan on getting the team to be more cohesive before the team departs for El Salvador??

Raymond Garbutt

?Well as management we would like to have them together for at least four days, I don?t know if that is possible, but that would help a lot.?

The girls are scheduled for only one more team workout before leaving for El Salvador. And even if they don?t get to spend that all-important extra time together, the bonds of friendship and sportsmanship developed over the last couple of weeks are sure to last them the rest of their lives. Patrick Jones, for News 5.

The team is made up of seven players from Cayo, six from the Belize district and three from Stann Creek. Belize plays its first game on the night of August fifth against Nicaragua. Persons wanting to assist our juvenile team in the Central American Championships can contact federation members David Cardenas in Independence, manager Raymond Garbutt in Roaring Creek or Phillipa Bailey in Belize City.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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