First comes all of the good news.
Softball in Miami Springs was well represented two weeks ago when not one but a pair of youth girls softball teams made the two-hour trip down to Marathon to compete in their respective District 8 championship games and not only won, but won handily.
Head coach Otto Camejo watched as his U-10 girls clobbered the host team, Marathon, by a 20-2 final before Humberto Crespo’s U-12 girls took the field and delivered the same fate to Marathon, winning 18-3.
“Just a terrific effort by both teams,” said Camejo, who is also president of the Miami Springs Little League. “To outscore them by a combined 38-5 tells you something about the quality of our girls softball play in Miami Springs Little League.”
The U-10s were led by Alyssa Crespo, who had a three-run home run early on to stake her team to an early lead. After that, great catching from Jessica Bustamante and good defense from Yanissa Sosa helped pave the way for the big win.
Not long after both teams had won their District 8 title, the news got even better when they learned that because Broward County did not field a District 7 representative, thus voiding the bracket, both teams would advance to the state tournament next month.
The U-10s tourney is slated for July 19-23 at Conley Little League Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla. The U-12s is scheduled for the same dates but much farther away — in Niceville, up near Pensacola.
Now is where the news doesn’t get so good. Thanks to a case of simply not enough money, total parental committment, or both, the U-12 team will not be heading to Niceville and things are looking shaky for the U-10s as well.
For Camejo, it’s a case of deja vu from last summer.
It was last year when he took a U-12s team, the Lady Tigers, to district and sectional titles to advance to state. But they never made it.
“I’m still working to try to raise the money, but even if I do, it might not be enough,” Camejo said. “That’s because it doesn’t look like two of my top girls, both pitchers, would even be able to make the trip anyway.”
“I guess their folks had summer vacation plans or something,” Camejo said with a look of frustration. “I mean, here I am again just like last summer with a team advancing to state and I hear something to the tune of, ‘We had summer plans.’ At some point, parents have to determine if they’re committed or not because it’s not always fair to the other girls on the team and perhaps those parents that are.”
Camejo said he is continuing to practice with his girls on a daily basis and still looking into the possibility of traveling north. He will have until July 12 when the other sectional tournaments are concluded to notify officials of whether Miami Springs will have an entry. Crespo and the U-12s aren’t even bothering to do that.
“He already notified me that there’s no way he (Crespo) would even be able to field a team,” Camejo said. “He pretty much gave me the same reasons.”
Camejo said that lodging alone over a possible five-day stay would come to $3,600 and the final tally would get over $5,000 when you throw in meals and incidentals. Whether he can manage to scrounge up the money and enough players to make it to Kissimmee, things will change next year. His daughter Alexa just turned 9 and will be old enough to play on the U-10s and Camejo said if they win sectionals, he plans on making the trip north.
“I’m going to let every single parent know all the dates well in advance and the money necessary in order to make those trips,” said Camejo. “Something needs to change. If parents want their kids to be on a quality team and see their kids get better on the field, then it has to be an ‘all in’ kind of thing.”
He also said that money will not be a problem, either.
“We’re going to start putting a small portion of every dime we raise towards a travel fund,” said Camejo. “We’ll need to start saving early on to make sure that finances aren’t an issue.”
Anyone wishing to offer some financial assistance to Camejo and the U-10 girls team in their quest to make it to Kissimmee can reach him at 305-494-4863.