Earning a collegiate baseball scholarship can be an almost impossible task for small town athletes in Arizona.
As a hot bed of the sport, players in Phoenix and Tucson have the opportunity to play year-round, giving them a huge advantage over youngsters representing the likes of Payson, Winslow, Show Low and Blue Ridge high schools.
Some of the "big name" players in the Valley earn scholarships to University of Arizona and Arizona State leaving little opportunity for the lesser-known athletes.
However, there could be a remedy on the horizon for small school players hoping to someday showcase their talents on the collegiate level.
Greg Virga, an assistant baseball coach at Cave Creek Cactus Shadows and opener of the Valley-based Blue Chip Prospects recruiting service, is hoping to provide an opportunity for the state's players to earn recognition on the national level by participating in the 2000 Baseball Recruiting Trip.
The goal of the journey, Virga said, "is to have all participants receive scholarship offers in the NCAA signing periods."
The recruiting trip, which runs from Aug. 2 to Aug. 16, will take a group of about 20 qualified student athletes to over 200 baseball coaches on the east coast, Virga said.
On the two-week excursion along the East coast, the Arizona players will play games and practice in front of visiting college coaches.
Some of the colleges Virga expects to be represented are George Mason, St. Bonaventure, Drexel, Hartford and UMass.
Visiting the East is a big plus for local players, Virga says because "many colleges and universities (there) have significant scholarship money to offer and would love to recruit Arizona players.
"Unfortunately, many don't have the recruit budget to fly out here (to Arizona)."
Arizona's journey to the East coast, Viral says, "solves (the East college coaches) problems and opens the door for the 20 players on the trip to get great educations and receive scholarship money to play baseball."
Players eligible to participate in the recruiting trip are those who are currently juniors in high school and will be eligible to enroll at a four-year institution at the completion of the 2000-2001 school year.
"Players must have the desire to attend colleges on the east coast (and the) ability to play college baseball," Virga said.
The cost of the trips are expected to range from about $1,800 to $2,300.
"We believe it will be a good investment," Virga says.
Those interested in participating in the 2000 Baseball Recruiting Trips should attend a dinner meeting at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Native New Yorker restaurant, at 69th Street and Shea Boulevard in Scottsdale.
Call Virga at (480) 575-9480 for more information.