GULFPORT - Based 10 miles from NASA's launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida's representative at the Southeast Region Tournament knows about venturing into the unknown.
Now the 11- and 12 year-olds from Cocoa seek the league's first berth to the World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Cocoa brings a high-powered offense to the eight-team tournament that begins today in Gulfport. In 11 games, Cocoa has hit 25 home runs to help win Brevard County's first state title. Of the 25, 18 were by Eric Zarm and Tyler Anderson.
"The long ball has really helped us out," Cocoa coach Keith Gordon said.
"We played really great baseball during the state tournament, so I guess we're peaking at the right time."
Cocoa hit five home runs in the district and state finals. But as the competition gets tougher, it will have to rely on something more consistent.
Such as pitching.
Zarm and Anderson are a combined 6-1 and not afraid to use some old-fashion velocity to get ahead of batters.
Zarm's fastball was clocked at 81 mph but stays in the high 70s for most of the game. He starts Florida's opening game tonight against Westside Alabama.
The participants checked in at the Southern Region Headquarters complex on Saturday morning and spent the afternoon exploring their surroundings.
Cocoa players were thrilled to show off their new uniforms while lounging around the dormitories. Several players could not resist looking back at the team's accomplishments since last year.
"We used to just be little Cocoa," Florida's Jay Maxner said. "Now we're Florida."
Cocoa reached the state final last season but lost late to East Boyton Beach, who went on to win the U.S. title.
Only a handful of players remain, but the significance of this tournament is not lost among the younger players.
"They've always talked about making it to St. Pete and Williamsport since they were in T-ball," Gordon said.
"This is just as strange a place to us, probably more than anyone because we've always wanted to be here."