MINNEAPOLIS -- The Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) Softball World Series kicks off this weekend in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and eight teams will begin seeding games on Sunday as they aim to capture the 24th title in tournament history.Of those eight teams, one has aspirations of taking home a title
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) Softball World Series kicks off this weekend in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and eight teams will begin seeding games on Sunday as they aim to capture the 24th title in tournament history.
Of those eight teams, one has aspirations of taking home a title for the second straight year; Mathews-Dickey Boys & Girls Club RBI, which is based in St. Louis, won the 2017 championship in Cincinnati and will be in contention again this year.
Along with the Cardinals, Puerto Rico Aguadilla RBI, Cincinnati Reds RBI, Harrisburg RBI (Pennsylvania), DREAM RBI (Harlem, N.Y.), Rays RBI Tampa, Houston Astros RBI and Los Angeles Dodgers RBI all won their respective regional tournaments to qualify for the World Series.
Hosted by the Minnesota Twins this year, the RBI World Series is the international championship tournament of the RBI program, the MLB youth initiative designed to provide young people from underserved and diverse communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball.
"As a player, it was amazing. I loved it and wish that everyone got to experience it," said Dodgers coach Bree Simpson, who played in the tournament from 2006-08. "And now as a coach, I'm even more excited because I get to see the look on these girls' faces."
The Dodgers' softball program is making their first appearance in the tournament since winning back-to-back World Series titles in 2010 and '11. Puerto Rico won the World Region championship in Vero Beach, Fla., to qualify for the tournament for the second consecutive year.
Houston RBI won the Southwest Region to qualify for the tournament for the 16th consecutive time. The Astros return nine players from last year's team.
"I would say our previous teams have jelled pretty well, but this team is coming together extremely well," Astros coach Megan Hays said. "We only really started practicing together and getting ready for all of this three weeks ago."
The week will be jam-packed with plenty of game action, as well as various other activities. Tournament play will kick off at 8:30 a.m. CT Sunday at the Dunning Softball Fields in St. Paul. Later in the afternoon, players will have a chance to showcase their talent in front of scouts during Sunday's Workout Day at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.
On Tuesday, the players and coaches will attend a roundtable where they will meet with representatives of several of Minnesota's professional sports teams, including the Twins. Afterward, they will head to Target Field to watch the Twins take on the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The tournament semifinals will take place on Wednesday, and the championship game will be held Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at the University of Minnesota.
Even with the busy week ahead, many players were eager to get a workout in as soon as they touched down in Minnesota on Sunday.
"Trust me, these girls wanted to get a workout in," Simpson said. "As soon as we got here, they had their gloves and were like, 'Can we work on ground balls?' I've gotta get them to relax."
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.