Local Little Leaguers Visit Evans Diamond

Feb. 13, 2008

BERKELEY, CALIF. - It was a feel good morning last Saturday at Evans Diamond as the Cal baseball team hosted the Pittsburg National Little League as part of a half-day, community outreach skills camp. The event, which consisted of over 40 little leaguers, was aimed at not only providing free baseball instruction to all participating youth, but to create an education awareness by exposing the kids to a real college environment.

'This is something they'll remember for the rest of their lives,' said Patricia Bartzi, Secretary and Fundraising Coordinator for the Pittsburg Little League. 'I think the kids realize by coming here that Cal is actually a place that they can end up if they put the hard work and effort into it.'

The day consisted of various throwing, defensive and hitting drills as Cal's baseball student-athletes worked closely with camp participants by teaching them proper technique and sportsmanship.

'The entire event is just great,' said junior outfielder Ryan Hanlon. 'This is just so much fun to be able to work with the kids and to be able to help them out any way we can. This has got to be a pretty special experience for each of them.'

Sophomore outfielder and set-up relief pitcher Blake Smith could not agree more, adding 'at the end of the day when we reflect, we feel pretty good about what we did. You really want to make a difference in someone's life. I think we did that today.'

Walking around the field, smiles were visible all morning from the players, youth and parents alike. When asked what he enjoyed most out of the camp, Little Leaguer Jacob Bartzi who plays for the Pittsburg Giants replied, 'Just coming out to Cal was cool. To meet all the players and see what it's like at Cal...that is pretty cool.'

At the end of the day, pitching coach Dan Hubbs offered a question and answer opportunity for the little leaguers before they were released for the remainder of the day. When all was said and done, several of the camp participants remained on the field, roaming around for autographs and greeted by high-fives and smiles from the players.

'I am absolutely proud of our guys the way they stepped up and took it upon themselves to make the event a complete success,' stated Stefan Shakiba, who is Cal's Director of Baseball Operations and coordinator of the event. 'We truly have a special group of student-athletes who make the most out of the opportunities they are given.'

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