Huntington Beach-based Firecrackers to play in softball tournament in Cuba

Eric Sondheimer
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Sophomore shortstop Lillyanna Travieso from Mission Hills Alemany High School is going to have quite a story to tell in September when teachers ask, “What did you do this summer?”

On Sunday, Lillyanna and nine other members of the Huntington Beach-based Firecrackers club softball program will fly from Los Angeles to Havana to become the one of the few U.S. travel softball teams to compete in Cuba.

“It’s amazing,” Lillyanna said. “It’s just going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and play softball.”

Lillyanna ’s father, Manny Travieso, coaches the team that comprises players in the 18-and-under and 16-and-under categories and chosen from Firecrackers rosters from around the country. Travieso’s father, Lillyanna’s grandfather, was born in Cuba.

“He’s really surprised and happy I’m going,” Lillyanna said.

Manny Travieso, born in Puerto Rico, had the idea of putting together a trip for softball players to compete in Cuba. A competition was created: the “Cuban Softball Multi-Cultural and Exhibition Tournament,” July 23 to 28 in Havana.

“This is something very unique,” he said.

One of the teams the Firecrackers are expected to play is the Cuban national team.

Everyone seems excited to observe the 1950s cars on Havana’s streets.

“I’m very much into the colors,” Travieso said. “I’m looking to see any Cadillacs.”

Players from Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, Flintridge Prep and Palos Verdes high schools are also on the team.

Basketball stars converge on Las Vegas

The biggest week of the boys’ travel basketball season is set for next week in Las Vegas.

Teams, players and college coaches will be there for the Las Vegas Fab 48 at Bishop Gorman High and the Adidas Las Vegas Classic at Cashman Center.

From LaMelo Ball of Chino Hills to Bol Bol of Santa Ana Mater Dei, top players from Southern California will be participating.

Among the players to watch is junior Gianni Hunt of Torrance Bishop Montgomery High. He’ll be playing for Belmont Shore. He has grown to 6 feet 3 and is challenging to be the best point guard in the class of 2019. He made key contributions last season in helping Bishop Montgomery win the state Open Division championship.

“The sky’s the limit,” Bishop Montgomery coach Doug Mitchell said earlier this summer. “He made a great run for us down the stretch and lifted his game to another level. He’s longer and more athletic. He’s still growing and might squeeze in another inch.”

Hunt is the cousin of the football-playing St. Brown brothers from Santa Ana Mater Dei, Stanford and Notre Dame. He’s also a cousin to NFL defensive back Rayshaad Reynolds of the Chicago Bears and former Sylmar All-City quarterback Clarence Williams.

City Section now “Open”

The City Section will have an Open Division playoff division in football this fall for the top eight teams at the end of the regular season.

City Section coaches will vote Saturday on which three teams will participate in the state playoffs. They can vote to either send the Open champion, Open runner-up and Division II champion; or Open champion, Division I champion and Division II champion.

Also starting this season, teams must exchange rosters before each game. The new requirement comes in wake of Los Angeles and Hawkins highs having to forfeit all their 2016 games because of ineligible players.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

Twitter: latsondheimer

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