Play Ball!

Cal Ripken Baseball is as American as, well, apple pie. And at Rotary Sportsplex in Ocala, hundreds of boys and girls are getting their start in America’s favorite pastime. Summertime, though, is for the best of the best—it’s all-star season. And some of the region’s best will be traveling right here to Ocala.

From T-ball to majors (ages 4 through 12), kids are taking to the fields in tournaments throughout the state of Florida this summer, hoping to bring home a trophy or medal.

One Rotary rookie team, the Vipers, gets the incredible opportunity to compete in the Southeast Regional this month. (At press time, the Vipers are in West Palm Beach competing in the state tournament.)  

Hosted by Rotary this year, the Southeast Regional runs for five days beginning July 17 and will feature teams from across the Southeastern United States, including South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida.

“The ability to host a regional tournament is a huge benefit to the park and the Ocala area,” says Rotary Sportsplex President of Cal Ripken Baseball Anthony Vizzini. “It allows the players to be a part of an exciting tournament right here within their county. The players can sleep in their own beds and don’t have to travel far distances. The tournament allows for family and friends to attend who would otherwise not be there to support them, and it encourages other teams to travel to our county, stay in our hotels, eat at local restaurants and participate in activities. It shows off what Ocala has to offer.” 

And the Southeast Regional Tournament is open to anyone willing to go and watch some of the best teams compete for the chance to attend the Cal Ripken World Series,” adds Vizzini.

The best part? It’s free for spectators.

Hosting tournaments and recreation ball for nearly two decades, Rotary Sportsplex members take pride in their park and do everything they can to make it an enjoyable experience. 

“We work closely with the Marion County Parks and Recreation Department, which does an excellent job of maintaining our fields. We provide scholarships to families who are in need, and we provide a friendly, competitive place for children to play baseball. Rotary Sportsplex is a non-profit organization that is operated and organized solely by volunteers. There are a total of eight fields available for game play, which allows all of the games to be played at Rotary. There is no traveling involved, and all games are played during the week, leaving the weekends for family time. We also provide baseball clinics and camps to our players from professional and experienced coaches.”

 Who knows, there just may be a future Babe Ruth or Joe DiMaggio stepping up to the plate this summer. 

Want To Go? › Southeast Regional Tournament › Rotary Sportsplex, 5220 SE Maricamp Road, Ocala › July 17-22 › Free › rotarysportsplexofmarioncounty.siplay.com

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