TAMPA — After scoring the NCAA Division II championship title last season, the University of Tampa baseball team is setting its sights on a new bracket of opponents.
The Spartans are headed to Cuba for a baseball tournament and cultural exchange program next week, university athletics officials announced Thursday afternoon.
Among the teams UT will play are the Industriales Blue Lions, Mayabeque Hurricanes and Artemisa Hunters. The players also will meet and train with the Cuban Baseball Team and Matanzas Baseball Team.
“This is an amazing cultural opportunity for our guys to go see a country with such a rich history, and to promote dialogue between young people in different countries,” head Coach Joe Urso stated in a news release. “With the many Cuban ties in the city of Tampa and the UT baseball program, it will be great for our team to see where this culture comes from. And, it will be an experience for our team to play some of the best baseball players in the world.”
The team is scheduled to arrive in Cuba on Sunday and remain there until Jan. 19. It will tour local attractions and sample Cuban cuisine, as well as participate in community service projects, officials said. The Spartans are scheduled to play at least four baseball games and work with Cuban trainers, coaches, students and faculty from the University of Havana.
UT finished the 2013 season with a 47-12 record and brought home the Division II championship title in June after defeating Minnesota State University. The Spartans are ranked as the top team in Division II pre-season polls.