“We’re going to win the state (title),” Chase Rose said calmly leaning against the black light pole on the corner of Main Street and Broadway while he and a handful of teammates were soliciting for donations downtown to take them to the state tournament next weekend.
And he should be this confident. The Bartow Dixie Youth baseball team 10 and Under won the district tournament in a convincing fashion. None of the five games they played lasted more than four innings as they outscored their opponents 74-3 and posted three shutouts. In the finals, they topped East Lakeland 11-1. Last year when Bartow hosted the Dixie World Series this team lost in the finals to South Carolina 4-1 becoming only the second host team to make it to the finals in the Dixie World Series history.
This year, though, to make it to the state tournament in Freeport, Fla., which starts July 12, they have to raise about $10,000 just to pay for the hotel rooms for the
12 players and three coaches. The league will pay for two days in a hotel, but the rest of the money has to come from the team. Freeport is about seven hours from Bartow and it’s in a different time zone in the Panhandle almost in the middle of nowhere.
“We’ve booked 15 rooms and this hotel is far from the field,” said team mother Julie Sloan, commenting that it wasn’t easy to find a place to stay as she joined the players downtown soliciting donations from anyone who wanted to pitch in.
While many sets of parents and grandparents are planning to attend, the money they are trying to raise is for the players, Sloan emphasized. A chance to win and get to the World Series in Mississippi is certainly on the top of their minds, but so is winning it for one of their own.
“We’re also doing this for Keyon,” Jonathan Vastine said, his hat in his hand filled with dollar bills as he stood on the sidewalk in front of the Polk County History Center.
Keyon Torres, who played for the Minor League Giants, died June 9 in an accident in the shower.
They started the collection drive on Friday and Sloan estimated on Monday they’ve raised about $2,500 toward that $10,000 goal. They’ve got a couple of raffles and giveaways they’re sponsoring. As of Monday the website they’ve set up on gofundme.com has raised about $750.
In other raffles they’re doing, there’s a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380 they’re giving away. Tickets are $10 each or three for $20. There’s Krispy Kreme doughnut packages people can buy by Friday. And for $150, people or businesses can buy their names on a banner that will hang on the dugout with other names or for $750 they can get their own banner that will hang on their dugout.
Anyone who wants to be part of that raffle can do so at the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, Saturday, the team will be washing cars from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Goodyear on State Road 60.
“It’ll cost whatever people can donate,” Sloan said.