COOPERSTOWN BOUND: Carrillo to play in renowned travel ball tourney
Isaiah Carrillo of the Calexico Titans winds up to pitch against the Calexico Giants during a Little League game on Friday in Calexico. (FERNANDO ACOSTA JR. PHOTO / May 30, 2013)
More than 100 elite teams will be participating this year, fielding the best young athletes from around the country, one of whom calls the Imperial Valley home.
Isaiah Carrillo, 12, has been around bats, mitts and balls since he was 3 years old. Beginning in Little League, he made the jump to travel when he turned 8 and hasn’t looked back.
He divides his time between playing second base, pitcher and catcher for the Calexico Titans and playing first base for the SoCal Fury Elite travel team out of San Diego. Throughout the years, Isaiah has attended his share of big tournaments, but none on the scale of Cooperstown.
He credits Fury Elite manager and coach Michael Campagna with helping to make his “ultimate dream” a reality.
“It feels great to be able to go, to have this opportunity,” said Carrillo. “(Campagna) is a good coach. He shows me things, tells me what I’m doing wrong. I wouldn’t have been able to go to a Florida tournament last year if he hadn’t helped us out with money for the flight.”
“It’s expensive to play,” admits Isaiah’s father, Sal Carrillo, “and if it wasn’t for Campagna, we couldn’t afford it. I mean, sometimes you play 10 to 12 weeks in a row, easily.
“And it’s not about who wins or who loses,” he adds. “It’s about facing the best. To me, all this is about trying to make my kid a better baseball player. He’s been all over and I’m just along for the ride, to lend him support. I went through it once with my older son and I’ll go through it again with my younger son, who is 6. I’m just thankful (Isaiah) got invited to this tournament. It’s a big deal.”
As the only local player selected to play at Cooperstown, Isaiah is aware of what is expected of him from his team, from his coach and from his family, but despite the scale of the event, he isn’t all that worried.
“I’m mostly excited — just a little bit nervous,” he said.
The Fury Elite will be leaving for Cooperstown tomorrow and will conclude tournament play on June 7. Brackets have yet to be determined.