After winning 16 of 17 games so far this season, the Cleburne 6U All-Star Jackets are heading to the PONY World Series in Louisiana next week.
The Cleburne 6U Jackets have already won four championships, including sectional and regional championships en route to qualifying for the world series in Youngsville, Louisiana, scheduled for Wednesday through next Saturday.
Cleburne has taken first place in all four tournaments it has competed in this year: Springtown Invitational on June 12-13, PYBSA Ring of Frame in on June 19-20 in Fort Worth, sectionals on June 26-27 in Azle, and regionals on July 10-11 in Springtown.
“We’re all very excited,” Cleburne 6U Head Coach Joe Ortiz said. “The last time a CBSA [Cleburne Baseball & Softball Association] team has done it was back in 2006. So we were very excited.”
The 6U Jackets are in their first year of playing together as the players on this team had to go through tryouts to earn a spot on the roster, said Genie Ortiz, the “team mom.”
“This is their first time ever to play together,” Genie Ortiz said. “These boys had to try out for the team mother’s day weekend and they were chosen by their performances during drills like grounding the ball and batting. They had a bunch of things they had to do to try out for the team and these boys were the ones selected. Ever since then, they’ve grown together and they’re like brothers.”
Comprising the roster of the Cleburne 6U All-Star Jackets are Taylenn Rodriguez, Nico Ortiz, Max Whiteley, Jose Garza III, Josiah Vasquez, Laik Ball, Cash Jordan, Preston Reaves, Jaxon Craig, Bowen Bailey, Adrian Ortiz, Crosby Fuller and Jayce Mitchell.
In addition to Joe Ortiz, other coaches for the team include Clayton Craig, Christopher Vasquez and Paul Reaves.
One of the biggest attributes these 6U Jackets have is their coachability, Joe Ortiz said.
“They’re really smart and they listen well,” he said. “They picked up their fundamentals really quick. I try to teach them what we want them to do and they pick it up really quick.”
Additionally, it’s been a full team effort from all 13 players, Genie Ortiz added.
“All of the kids are equal and all of the kids are pitching in,” she said. “Without each and every one of these kids, we wouldn’t have the team that we have. When one’s down, another one picks them up. They’re like brothers.”
Genie Ortiz said this is the first tee-ball team out of the CBSA to qualify for the PONY World Series.
“These kids have worked hard all summer,” she said. “They’ve played 17 games, won 16 of them, have won four championship and have taken title of south zone region champs for the whole region. This last tournament in Springtown, that’s where they seeded No. 1 and were chosen to go to the world series in Louisiana.”
And the Cleburne 6U Jackets are setting their sights high going into the world series tournament.
“We’re expecting to go out there and go all the way,” Genie Ortiz said. “We’re in it to go all the way. These kids are practicing their little hearts out. They’re in it to bring home the win.”
Cleburne is guaranteed to compete in at least six games as it will start with four games of pool play before heading to bracket play.
There will be 32 tee-ball teams from all of the regions there,” Genie Ortiz said. “We’ll go against teams from Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Louisiana. Those are the first teams we’ll face in our pool play. If we seed first or second in that, we’ll go to the championship bracket. If we seed third, fourth or fifth, we’ll be in the consolation bracket.”
The team will leave town Tuesday and begin its quest for a PONY World Series title on Wednesday.
There is a GoFundMe account as well as a BBQ raffle to help cover the cost of travel and hotel stay.
Bare Barbecue in Cleburne is supporting the Cleburne 6U Jackets with a raffle where the winner will receive a $100 gift certificate. To enter the raffle and support the 6U Jackets, send $5 via Venmo to Bare Barbecue with your first and last name.
The link to the GoFundMe is: www.gofundme.com/f/world-series-bound-6u-jackets-allstar-team.