AP travel team leads way in youth baseball tourney

Photo by Daniel Gretzner
The Allen Park youth Michigan baseball travel team, including Robert Oliver (left) Coach DonJustice, Christian Justice and Nate Berrelez, were semi-finalists in the Summer Slam tournament.

Learning the fundamental skills and know how in baseball starts at a young age, and many youngsters from the greater Dearborn/Downriver communities who have a special fondness for America’s pastime, sign up to play on travel teams.

One such team, made up of youth in the 13- and 14-year-old bracket, is the Michigan Tigers of Allen Park. Don Justice is the manager of these lads who aspire to someday playing high school, college or professional baseball.

“These kids are learning sportsmanship and understaning of the game they love to play,” Justice said. “Our travel league gives them that opportunity and some of them will advance to the high school and college level of play.”

The weekend of June 16 and 17, the Tigers reached the semifinals in the Summer Slam tournament held in Flat Rock. It was an international event with two teams coming from nearby Windsor and Amherstburgh, Ontario.

Top players for the Tigers include outfielders, Christian Justice and Robert Oliver. Nate Berrelez is the No. 1 starting pitcher. This trio of players can hit the ball for extra bases and consistently drive in runs.

Justice is a retired school teacher and high school athletic director. He is fulfilling his desire to teach these area players to help them advance to the next level.

The Northwest Suburban League is where a number of travel teams compete, based on various age groups. The organization is run by Len Makowski of Allen Park, who is the director.

This summer, from time-to-time, “Focus on Sports” will be doing column articles on recreation softball, fishing, golf and other outdoors-related activities.