by Sergio Santistevan
Players and coaches are preparing for warm weather and fresh competition in Arizona as one of Triple Crown Sports' major baseball tournaments is just around the corner. The Arizona Spring Championships will welcome teams from 17 different states in March, starting with Session 1 (March 5-8) and ending with Session 3 (March 19-22), with age groups ranging from 8u-14u.
The Arizona Spring Championships is held during MLB Spring Training as teams enjoy the beautiful baseball weather under the Southeast Valley and Scottsdale sun.
The Golden Spikes out of California will be in full force in Arizona with six of their teams in attendance across each bracket. Co-founder of the Golden Spikes Baseball Academy, Brett Hemphill, has been looking forward to Arizona since last season.
“We had such a great experience last year,” Hemphill said. “The second we finished last year all of our parents were coming up to us saying, ‘We’ve got to do this next year’… we had such a great time.”
This year, TCS is hosting its biggest Arizona Spring Championships yet with the introduction of Session 3 and the Cactus Camp.
On top of all the game action, players will have the opportunity to improve on their skills and learn the fundamentals of the game from some of the best teaching professionals in the country. Todd Coburn, known widely as “The Catching Guy,” and Bobby Patton will host the Cactus Camp on March 19. Coburn is a former catcher and Division II College World Series participant at Cal Poly SLO, a two-time draft pick of the Houston Astros and a former catcher of the Philadelphia Phillies with 25 years of experience coaching catchers.
Patton, owner of BP Training, is a current coach of more than 10 minor leaguers. He’s worked with 50-plus Division I players and is former coach of the Phenom Signature National Team, which boasted a 43-1 record in 2017 and No. 2 national ranking.
Scottsdale and Chandler will host Session 1 of the Spring Championships. Sumner Bulldogs (Puyallup WA, 10s), Chandler Stars (Chandler AZ, 11s D1), Triple Play (Bakersfield CA, 11s D2), AZ National Baseball Academy (Gilbert AZ, 12s D1), California Aces (Los Alamitos CA, 12s D2), Concord Patriots (Oakley CA, 13s D1), AF Cavemen (Lehi UT, 13s D2), Southern California Baseball Club (Agoura Hills CA, 14s D1) and LA Rockstars (Los Angeles CA, 14s D2) all came out victorious in their respective brackets last year in Session 1.
Wade Jackson, coach of the 14u Saddleback Cowboys from South Orange County, CA., is looking forward to his team showing out in Arizona and enjoying the festivities that come with it.
“Arizona is a key tournament for us,” Jackson said. “Our goal is to go and fare as well as we can but obviously having a good time with the boys, too.”
Session 2 will run next on March 12-15. MVP Hustle IE Wicks (Hemet CA, 8s), So Cal Aztecs (La Puente CA, 9s), LVR (Las Vegas NV, 10s D1), Amarillo Dragons (Amarillo TX, 10s D2), Cory Lidle Baseball (Covina CA, 11s D1), The YARD (Elk Grove CA, 11s D2), Big West BPA Elite (San Clemente CA, 12s D1), NorCal Prospects (Danville CA, 12s D2), CBG Ventura County (Oak Park CA, 13s D1), Colts (Irvine CA, 13s D2), Premier Baseball Club (Battle Ground WA, 14s D1) and Slammers-Balser (Parker CO, 14s D2) took home the hardware in last year’s brackets.
Before Arizona, Jackson will prepare the Cowboys with three practices a week and make sure his team is developed and ready to go.
“We treat this as if it’s a professional tournament,” he said. “We talk to them about why they’re going and the costs that go into going.”
The Spring Arizona Championships consist of a six-game or four-game bracket with all teams advancing to each respective Sunday for a single-elimination tournament.
“We’re looking at playing in a big-time tournament with a lot of tough competition, which is what we love to do, we like to compete and play against the best,” said Hemphill.