Sports & Recreation

Aaron Makil gets ready to play defense as the starting shortstop for his team. Photos by Vanessa Manuel

Playing In The Dirt, Getting Ready for Triple Crown World Series

By Jennifer Hernandez
Au-Authm Action News

Playing baseball is just a way of life for Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Aaron Makil. After dropping him off one day to serve as a bat boy for his older sister’s Little League team in the 9- to 12-year-old division, his mother, Rebecca Makil, returned to the game to find Aaron playing left field as a 6-year-old. Since that day, she said, baseball has been the sport he loves.

While competing on the Sandlot Bulldogs, a club baseball team out of Mesa, Makil also plays with a Mesa city league. He practices three days a week for two hours on weekdays and three hours on weekends. Despite being wrapped up in baseball, Makil still maintains his focus on academics. He is an honor-roll student who was recently nominated for the National Junior Honor Society at Kino Junior High in Mesa. He also plays recreational basketball in the off-season.

Makil plays shortstop, pitcher and catcher for the Bulldogs. He said he likes playing shortstop best because he serves as the captain of the infield and gets grounders and the chance to make big plays.

“He really just worked his way into becoming a pitcher because he always pushes himself and decided he wanted to be a pitcher,” Rebecca Makil said.
Makil said it is difficult to pitch, but he has learned a lot.

“I know now the main thing when it comes to pitching is to hit the spots and corners and not just throw it down the pipe,” he explained. “It helps me to understand both sides, since I pitch and catch.”
Makil said the team has not yet traveled

outside of Arizona and Las Vegas, so he is looking forward to making the trip to the Triple Crown World Series in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, July 26-31. The Bulldogs had to qualify and be invited to participate in the tournament.

“I am excited to go because I get to ride with my coach in his RV. And I think it is going to be fun because he is also taking other players and we will get the chance to hang out,” he said.

Makil admits he is a little nervous, but he said playing against better competition will make his team better.

Participating in sports yields more than just physical benefits, and Rebecca Makil said she has noticed a big change in her son.

“He has really grown up,” she said. “When he first started, he used to get really mad at himself because he is a perfectionist, but now he keeps it under control and has just matured.”

Rebecca Makil said they are lucky to have found the Bulldogs because all the boys on the team work together really well and “the coaches are great.”
“He is dedicated to his team and he is always asked by other teams to play with them, but he wants to play for the Bulldogs,” she said.


Tournament Results for the Sandlot Bulldogs

MLK Classic NIT
January 15-17 at Big League Dreams in Gilbert
Runners-up (lost 3-4 to North Valley Cyclones)

Super Bowl Kick Off 14U
January 29-30 at Big League Dreams

Ice Breaker Classic
February 12-13 at Big League Dreams
Runners-up (lost 4-5 to North Valley Cyclones)

USSSA Spring Championships II NIT
April 1-3 at Big League Dreams
Champions (won 6-5 over All City Titans)

USSSA Spring Fling
April 16-17 at Big League Dreams
Champions (won 5-4 over AZ T-Rex Baseball Club)

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