Belmont Bandits 11U baseball team
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Mar 20, 2019 - Easy come, Easy go
It comes and it goes. The Belmont Bandits are ranked #7 in the 247Travelball NC state rankings this week after our first full weekend of play - and that is great. The kids will love it- and beating the teams we won against is something to be proud of, which opened the door to this high ranking. But, baseball is a fickle lady. It is the most humbling sport on earth. You can be great one day, and a bum the next. While that website is really cool, we need to pay attention to what matters most in our baseball world. Focus on getting better at baseball while we are practicing and playing - just like we ask our kids to do their best in school, church, community.
We have not had a whole lot of time to practice this year, which is what we typically hang our hat on when entering these tournaments. We have had a few years of good skill development which we lean on for sure, but we need to really push to get better from the place we currrently reside. I'm not talking about polls either; I'm talking about the things we work on in practice. We haven't done much small skill stuff this year, and are rough in a lot of areas. It is time to push, and really sharpen our edge as we enter a stretch run of condensed tournaments with solid to great compeition every weekend we play until July.
Our team is not made up of the best player in every town amongst three counties. We have to give a great effort in practice and games every time out....the Bandit way. The sun, the lights, the weather, the field conditions...none of that is an excuse we are allowed to use. Our boys are taught to find a way to change those elements. The pretenders will joke about it. The baseball players will find a way. We have steep hills to continuously climb to even be able to compete with some of these best teams in NC and SC that we will play regularly. In addition to that, we have upcoming regional dates in other states that will offer even more great competition. Now isn't the time for fishing. Now is the time for grinding. We need to win today at practice, and every day we spend time on baseball, to make sure we can give our best effort when the game is live. We really have not even started working hard yet - but we are about to.
Mar 18, 2019 - Bandits win state's toughest tournament to date
This weekend Top Gun proved to host the state's toughest baseball tournament and our Belmont Bandits participated in it. Twenty-three teams were in the 11u tournament as a whole, and the Bandits played in the 'American' division of the tournament which contained ten total teams within it.
It is early in the spring baseball season, but the Travelball247.com website has rankings based off of this past fall baseball and early spring baseball played. They have state wide rankings and regional rankings as well. It's not perfect science, but gives everyone an indication of how well teams are doing and is an informative and fun source to check into.
Coming into this tournament the Bandits were 1-0...having played only one game last weekend due to rainout. Many of the teams that were supposed to have played got pushed into this tournament because of rain, and so it became a "mega" tournament pretty quickly. Based off of Travelball247 Regional rankings of "Charlotte Metro", their website rankings prior to this weekend had the Bandits not ranked....which is fair because we did not play in the fall at all, and only had one game under our belt this spring. This weekend's tournament had the #2 (Canes Baseball NC - Slaydon), #4 (Copperheads Snell/Heis) and #5 (LKN Hurricanes) ranked teams in Charlotte Metro playing in the American division.
The overall state of NC rankings are also shown on Travelball247 and had another team that was in the top 20, the Carolina Spinners at #18. Coming into this tourny the NC state rankings showed to be:
Also in the tournament was #8 overall team in the state of SC...the Team 24 Gamecocks - Bailey. They're always a tough competitor, and were in the mix this weekend as usual. We did not play the LKN Hurricanes or T24 groups because they were knocked out by a team we had to play along the trail to the championship. A newcomer, the Carolina Cannons, will be ranked before you know it. They are a solid bunch, as well.
The Bandits played four really strong teams, and came away with a 3-1 record on the weekend and captured the Gold Championship in the American division. We beat the #2, #4 and #18 teams in the current NC state rankings (those listed above). Anybody can beat anyone in baseball at any time, and we probably got lucky a whole lot. The kids have worked very hard though, so a lot of their sacrifice showed on the field which combined with some fortunate bounces made for a memorable weekend. One thing is for sure- it was a super tough weekend of play versus great 11u teams, and we are proud to have competed against such outstanding groups of athletes and coaches.
This weekend showed to be the toughest overall test available for 11u baseball competition in the state. You will never win them all in baseball, but we won most of them this weekend. Awesome job players, and many thanks to our fantastic support staff of parents, step parents, grand parents, siblings and other supporters. The kids got jumbo rings, but the confidence and pride won will ultimately be much more important than their "bling".
Jan 31, 2019 - Raffle, Sponsors & Volunteerism...baseball begins
Thanks to all those who participated in our raffle fundraiser. This raffle, along with our generous sponsors, are the crucial pieces to being able to allow our team to travel and compete against local, regional and national competition for zero cost to the parents. Our team and parents give back to our community in many ways, including frequenting area businesses that we can patronize and doing an annual work day down at the fields that Belmont Optimist has so graciously allowed us to use. Our partnership with that organization has been wonderful, and we repay the usage with constant upkeep and a couple of work days throughout the year.
Special thanks to Tait Triplett and Stateside Arms. Tait handled the raffle winner info and setup. Please contact him for any firearms needs you may have. He's born and bred right here in Belmont, NC and is a great fellow from an outstanding family. Our other sponsors also greatly contributed to our team being able to have such an eventful baseball schedule; though very challenging, that is exactly what we are trying to continually show to our players. Special thanks to our high ticket selling players: #1 Walker Spargo, #2 Mason Wells and #3 Christopher Wurster. All these families are 100% Bandits and understand that what we do with our group is much greater than just players and coaches playing a youth sport. It has always been that way, and will continue to be what we make it as a group until we are done.
Charlotte Metro Credit Union continues to be a huge sponsor for our team. The people at this business are on board with our town in Belmont and youth activities. We are proud to speak highly of them being represented in our town, and I encourage anyone to go and experience the same kind of fantastic relationship we have come to know from dealing with them.
We have many important sponsors that contribute to helping our players and families on the team. These businsses and individuals are the types that you want your children involved with at this age, or part of as they grow older. Rita's Family Restaurant, West Harbor Insurance, Charlotte Import Trucks, Power Products & Solutions, Johnny B's, Steve and Sandy Hartness, Educational Services Unlimited (Tim & Judy Eldridge), Hannon Orthodontics and Doc's Basement are all part of our crew that we represent on the weekends while playing both locally and regionally.
Lastly, special thanks to our big winner from the raffle: Harold Sutton. Harold participated in the drawing, and won the weapon when Big E (mascot) blindly drew his name out of the ball bucket Live on Facebook. It is on our Belmont Bandits 11U facebook site, and is linked below in this article as well if you want to check to see the transparency in which we determined the winner. The second place winner name was drawn, and that was Dale Mosteller who took home the $50 cash prize. All winnings have been delivered and thank you again for the participation, sponsorship and support. We aim to make you proud representing those who support us and our community.
Jan 27, 2019 - Bandits Work Day
Thank you very much for all those who participated in our recent annual 'Bandits work day'. We always have a plan to accomplish many things that need addressing, and this year we were able to complete a great deal in a small amount of time. The day was cold and dreary, so having over thirty volunteers on the day was a huge accomplishment in itself.
Thanks to all three Bandits teams, as every team was well represented. We have introduced some more dirt and a lot of sand onto field #2, and hopefully it will get to the stage field #1 is at after a few years of keeping it looked after. Most of the work focused on field #2, as we added a bullpen mound, re-dimensioned the bases and OF fence lines, moved and installed the OF fence, built a mound, re-surfaced the infield and cut a new edge into the infield. In addition to the fieldwork done, we also were able to put field turf down inside the batting cage, as well as the football concession area. The batting cage was re-strung and hung with the portable pitching mound set up for easy pitching or hitting practice. We will soon have a concrete ramp onto the concession area as well.
It was a very successful day, and my sincere thanks go out to our volunteers who did such a splendid job. Big Thanks to Craig Queen and First Foursquare Church for their help with the field turf. Also, another thanks goes out to John Bradley for being our liason with Duke Energy and having them attempt to address the well situation down at our fields. We appreciate their attention, and we hope we can get some water flowing down there soon. Lastly, thanks to Eric Wells and Wes Lathe for getting some heavy equipment down to the field so that we could more easily move dirt and turf - it was a huge help. We can't wait for baseball season. See ya'll at the field.
Jan 9, 2019 - First and Lasts
Rookie team to take a swing at playing on the weekends.
The Belmont Bandits are a new team that will try their hand at Nations Baseball for a few tournaments this spring. The team is made up entirely of Belmont Optimist/Little League players that are committed to getting better at baseball by hitting the diamond on the weekends. The first tournament the Bandits will play in is scheduled for this Saturday (May 2-3). The team will be thrown into the fire after having only three full practices prior to the first weekend of play. We'll try to hit 'em where they ain't- and see what happens.
Likely end of season finale
The story of our four tournament season is 0-4, 1-3, 2-2 and then finally this final tournament was 3-1. The improvement is obvious.
The boys on our team worked hard, got better at fighting back and reacting positively to adversity. Baseball is an emotional game, and we let the guys know upfront that we're going to be on them to perform and eliminate mistakes every game out, because we had limited time to work within. The kids did very well. This little "mini" season is a good exhibition to what awaits them in a year or two. Having expectations, rising to expectations and delivering when called upon are situations that we want to put them in now and have them respond. EVERY TEAM MEMBER took their test and passed. We didn't stop coaching them hard- because we care about their development. I am very proud of our team for their desire to play, get better and improvement.
I would like to give a special thanks to Kevin Bowman and Ken Mellette for helping coach this team. They did most of the work and were instrumental in knowing the rules to this new game, helping motivate the players and keeping the boys reminded of the little fundamentals that help make a complete baseball player. I value their time out there as a parent and coach along side them. Special thanks to Chip Wilson for helping with practice and keeping the scorebook for us this year. You never know....maybe we have another tourny in our future this summer.....but, if not- maybe we put it all together again and do this next year???
That's the first article, and the last article written about our inaugural Bandits team TEN years ago. Time flies when you're dragging baseball fields. Some of the rhetoric from above sounds familiar doesn't it? The general approach doesn't change, but the details update a little every year. We are looking forward to going into our tenth year for our program, and hope to continue to make positive strides on the field each day. Special thanks to Stacy for doing what nobody else I know could or would do. I know how much time goes into this, and I don't say "thank you" enough. Ten years of doing all this is a lot of personal time spent on others...so thank you so much for all you do.
We ended up not having a tryout for a new player, since the weather was uncooperative. We ended up taking a player who tried out and almost made the team LAST year - Hunter Hartness. He has come to two years of off season training and worked to be a better ball player. He now gets to learn on the field all the little nuances required to be able to compete against the teams we face each weekend. A big world just opened up for him, but we are confident he will progress nicely.
There are two other Belmont Bandits teams this year: Bandits 11u (McCarn) and Bandits 9u. We will share the fields with these teams throughout the year. As a reminder - there is no trash service at the fields, so please take home any trash you bring to the field.
This past weekend we were able to get onto the field for practice in great weather. Even though that may not be available in the coming weeks, we will still get our work in where we can. We have a work day coming up this weekend, and look to finalize our turf over concrete areas and get field #2 back to playing condition. We have worked on field #1 for several years and it's a little easier to maintain, so it is ready for the most part. 9u and 11u (McCarn) will be on that field a good bit, while we are on field #2. During the work day we will try to scrape the grass off that field, and get it playable; until then our team will just have to deal with the adversity of tougher field conditions. Recent fundraising our team has done should help get the field much better in the next few weeks.
The last couple of years, our players essentially just pay for their uniform to play. This is on the opposite end of the spectrum for what you may find elsewhere...especially if you practice over 70 times and play about 50 games in a sixth month period. It's a great deal. All of that is due mostly to our great sponsors. We really have a community that cares, and proves that by offering to help make this team happen every year. Gone are the days when four neighborhood kids would be in the far back of a Country Squire station wagon for 3:30-5pm practice. We ask a lot of the parents these days; from multiple two hour practices weekly, to traveling two and three hours away to watch their boy play. We appreciate those committed to our team. That loyalty tends to get repaid when navigating life's roads. Some call it karma. I call it - being an adult and leading your children by a good example. Continue to genuinely pull for each boy on the team, and it will help your own. I believe that, without question. Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.
Lastly, we will turn it up a notch this year. At age 11 the boys are able to do more physically and mentally. Right about age 12-13, baseball becomes an absolute talent game for the most part; so the skill we've developed and continue to work on will be crucial in their next steps onto other ballfields in years to come. In anything we do this year be it scrimmages, games, practices or checkers ... we are going to do it full speed and without apology. We have to do that because we will face teams who are flat out great this year. We have signed up for some tournaments that show teams who have players from multiple states on one team and others who have 90% win percentage records. We need to prepare for a bear, so we will do so. With one great practice in the books, our coaching staff looks forward to many more like that one this past Sunday. We will be sending out a practice schedule soon, which will consist of only weekend practices until early March. See you soon at the ball fields.
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