Once again, the 12U AB team for Bloomingdale Youth Sports Association (BYSA) in Valrico is going to Cooperstown, New York. The Bloomingdale AB Bandits are excited to play in the annual tournament this summer, with this being the last chance for the 12-year-olds on the team to ‘hit it out of the park’ in Cooperstown. The tournament is occurring in early August, with 12 out the 13 players on the roster set to compete in the games.

While that tournament is almost half a year away, there is a lot coming up for the Bandits to focus on as they wrap up their AB season. The season is currently underway for the young players with a handful of upcoming games over the next few months, playing next on Sunday, March 5 and 26, and then the championship on Sunday, April 30.

Additionally, the Bandits have a lofty fundraising goal of $22,000 that they hope to achieve through a variety of methods. Some of their current plans consist of savings cards, hat drops at local grocery stores and a variety of raffles. Coach Tom Irwin also shared that they are currently in the planning process of actual events and spirit nights at local restaurants, such as Your Pie Pizza. Even with most of the fundraisers still in the planning stages, the players have already managed to raise $1,000 and are eager to go after the rest.

AB is short for advanced baseball, which functions as a hybrid of sorts between travel and recreation baseball. The players all tried out for the team before making it and play on (rec) Little League teams simultaneously, and sometimes they will even face their AB teammates in the rec league. The rec games are played on Saturday, while the AB games are played on Sunday.

This group of kids have practiced and played together since December 2022 under Irwin and are starting to hit their stride. After the conclusion of the AB championship tournament, the players will continue practicing until their Cooperstown tournament.

“Coaching this team and preparing them to be competitive is a challenge I welcome. Developing these young men both on and off the field is a priority for me,” Irwin said.

For more information on the Bandits fundraising efforts, events and games, search for “Bloomingdale 12U AB Spring 2023” on Facebook; and if you would like to donate directly to the team, visit their GoFundMe page at https://gofund.me/c50a5330. For more information about BYSA, visit www.bysafl.com.

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