The Saipan Baseball League will be conducting tryouts for the CNMI U18 national baseball team that will compete in a tournament in New Zealand this coming December.
SBL president Jay Santos said they’ve sent out invitations to try out to 40 under-18 baseball players and so far majority of them responded affirmatively to taking part in the tryouts.
“We got about a 90% response rate from these players…It’s a really strong response. I believe some of the kids are still on vacation,” he said.
Those who make the final cut will represent the CNMI in the 2022 Oceania World Baseball and Softball Confederation U18 Tournament in Auckland, New Zealand in December.
Santos, however, cautioned those who signed up for the tryouts that this won’t be for the faint of heart.
“The tryout will be like the tryout for the CNMI Men’s National Baseball Team from the recent Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games.”
Santos said SBL is determined to form the best junior baseball team in the CNMI as the squad will square off against the best teams from the Oceania region like Australia, New Zealand, Guam, and American Samoa.
The winner of the 2022 World Baseball and Softball Confederation U18 Tournament will represent Oceania in the WBSC World Cup tournament next year.
The CNMI U18 junior national baseball team will be managed by Joey Dela Cruz with Manny Sablan, Mike Cruz, and Matt Kintol serving as coaches.
Santos added that he would like to emphasize to players’ parents and family that the tryouts will be based purely on skills, commitment, and talent.
“Like the men’s national team tryouts, this is going to be a strict tryout period….I’m pretty sure there’ll be some disappointment along the way from the players and even their parents and family, but I want to assure everyone that the selection will be a very fair process and because of the level of competition we want to send our very best players.”
Santos said if all goes well, SBL will be using the 2022 Oceania World Baseball and Softball Confederation U18 Tournament as a springboard to further develop youth baseball in the CNMI.
“What we want to do is to start the process of rebuilding the youth baseball programs here in the CNMI. That’s basically one of our main goals is to get youth baseball going again with these tryouts,” he said.