Tournaments : : Story
Saturday, September 17, 2011

PB Select eyes WWBA World

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Palm Beach Select head coach Craig Patrick walked over to the dugout after a brief meeting with a pair of umpires, and addressed his players.

“That’s it guys,” he announced. “We’re 1-0.”

Palm Beach Select had just been awarded a victory by forfeit in its opening game at the Perfect Game WWBA Florida Qualifier when its opponent, Dawg Pound, failed to show up at Roberto Clemente Field at Terry Park by 9 a.m. Saturday.

It wasn’t the way Patrick expected to earn a victory – forfeits are very rare at prestigious PG tournaments like the WWBA Florida Qualifier – and even though he has come here with a depleted roster, he was looking forward to having his team play a game.

The winner of the WWBA Florida Qualifier receives a paid invitation to the 2011 WWBA World Championship over in Jupiter Oct. 20-24. Palm Beach Select has already been extended an invitation to most prestigious tournament on Perfect Game’s calendar, but Patrick saw plenty of advantages in having his team here this weekend.

“We’re here just to get the guys playing together and give them some reps,” Patrick said before receiving word of the win by forfeit. “And if we happen to get lucky and win this thing we get our spot paid for – so that’s an incentive – but it’s mostly just to get the guys some additional work, some additional reps.”

Patrick also pointed out that he brought quite a few prospects over here who haven’t committed to a college yet, and the WWBA Florida Qualifier offers yet another chance at additional exposure in front of the numerous college coaches and professional scouts who are expected this weekend.

“It’s another chance for them to get seen by some college guys, and I’ve got some guys who I think and (other) coaches think are pro prospects, so it gives them another chance to be seen by some of the pro scouts,” he said. “That’s what this whole process is about – the exposure to college and pro (personnel) and helping these guys get to the next level.”

This marks the fifth straight year PB Select has played in the Florida Qualifier, and Patrick said he’s had a “different mix of guys” each year. Some years, he said, he brought a team with players who had been together for years and other Qualifiers he had a team where as many as 90 percent of the players had never played together before.

“It’s a chance for them to kind of get to know each other and let me and the other coaches get an idea of what certain kids are capable of doing before we get to the World Wood Bat in Jupiter, and then we can hopefully put our best efforts out there,” Patrick said.

PB Select is here without with a depleted roster due to illness, injury and other conflicts. That doesn’t mean it’s a roster completely devoid of talent.

The top prospects include RHP/1B/3B Josh Thorne from Stuart, Fla., and IF/C Michael Klement from Cooper City, Fla., both in the class of 2012. Thorn has committed to Stetson and Klement to Oklahoma State. Klement is ranked the 166th top national prospect in his class and No. 27 in Florida.

Ronnie Healy (C/OF) from Jupiter is also a high regarded prospect in the class of 2013. Healy is ranked 26th nationally No. 4 in Florida. He participated in the 2011 PG Junior National Showcase here in June.

Palm Beach Select – which is based in Jupiter – has played in the WWBA World Championship every year since 2007, initially under the banner of the Jupiter Hammerheads. The name was changed to the Palm Beach Select in 2008.

The team that is here this weekend will essentially be the same team Patrick will enter into the World Championship, although there will be some additions.

Palm Beach Select would love nothing better than have their entry fee paid for when they take the field at the Roger Dean Complex home in Jupiter for the WWBA World Championship. Even though his team isn’t at full strength, Patrick feels like he has the horses to make a run here this weekend. And he doesn’t need any more forfeit victories.

“If everybody does what they’re capable of doing and plays their game and if we get the pitching that we’re capable of putting out there, and we solid defense and get timely hitting – that’s the name of the game – and if we do that we can play with anybody,” Patrick said.

PB Select had a game scheduled against the CBC Riverhawks Saturday afternoon and will complete pool play Sunday morning with a game against CFBL Elite Prospects 18u Blue. The playoffs start Sunday afternoon and the semifinals and championship game are scheduled for Monday morning at Hammond Stadium.

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