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Victoria Southwest a Little League team with big heart

By Julie Garcia
July 18, 2014 at 2:18 a.m.

The Victoria Southwest Little League All-Stars will compete with four other teams at the Texas East state championship this weekend in Tyler. Team members are: Ky Zarate, Bryce Sitka, Braeden Schmidt, Logan Johnson, Jordan Fillmore, Marco Di Leo, Dawson Holly, Jacob Bordovsky, Caden Jander, Arnold Canales, Darren Slatter, Ashton Grones and Ricky Gonzalez.

As one of eight teams left in Texas in their Little League division, the Victoria Southwest 11- and 12-year-old All-Stars have a historical weekend in the making.

Victoria Southwest will play Pearland in its first game at the Texas East state championship Saturday at 8 p.m. at Faulkner Park in Tyler.

Though Pearland, Bridge City and Tyler will be tough opponents, manager Abe Zarate said he is gratified with the team's opportunity to play.

"It's so gratifying being able to see all their hard work and preparation pay off," Zarate said. "After we beat Lamar National in the bottom of the sixth on Tuesday and seeing the smiles on their faces and seeing them celebrate, that made all the long, hot days and time worth it."

Since Texas was split into Texas East and Texas West in 2002, no Victoria team in this division has advanced to the state championship.

"We've been telling them the last couple of weeks that nobody expects them to win but themselves, their families, us coaches and the rest of the fans from Victoria, he said. "Somebody has to represent this region, so why not us?"

As a tradition, the team runs wind sprints together after each game - win or lose.

"It tells the boys that they gave it everything they had during the game, and it proves to them that they have even more to give," Zarate said. "It's about team unity."

Zarate believes the boys' chemistry is why they have gone this far.

"These 13 kids have come together and built that," he said.

Pearland made it to the 2010 Little League World Series. With that in mind, Zarate knows the competition will be fierce.

"We're going to have it tough, but it's like we told the boys, we have nothing to lose," he said. "Play loose, have fun and play for each other. You give your all, and let's see what happens."

The four-team tournament is double-elimination. The winner will join the top team from Texas West to compete in the regional tournament.



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