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East County Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009 10 years ago

Siblings share love for baseball

by: Jen Blanco Sports Editor

MANATEE COUNTY — There is rarely a moment that goes by that 11-year-old Maddie Biggs isn’t thinking about playing softball.

The Haile Middle School sixth-grader has spent much of her life surrounded by baseball bats, batting gloves and catchers mitts — thanks to her older brother Tyler.

Maddie grew up watching Tyler play baseball; and as soon as she was able to hold a baseball bat, Tyler began teaching his younger sister how to play.

“Since I’ve been walking, he’s been teaching me,” Maddie said. “He taught me, and then I started liking it.”

At the time, all Tyler really wanted was a baseball playmate. But eventually, his persistence blossomed into an unbreakable bond with his sister. As their passion for the game intensified, the two increased their practice time together. Every morning, the two wake up and do push-ups and sit ups together; every evening, they spend nearly two hours training out in the backyard of their Country Creek home.

“I like practicing on my own with Maddie because I get a lot more done when it’s just myself and Maddie,” Tyler said.

The pair follows a strict workout regiment, which includes weight training, soft toss drills, tee work, catching drills and an occasional round of homerun derby, among other elements.

“The best part about working out with Tyler is that it improves my game,” Maddie said. “I can get a head start on what I’m going to be taught in a few years.”

Tyler, who will be a freshman at Lakewood Ranch High this fall, began playing baseball when he was 5 years old.

“I like the game of baseball because it’s fun,” he said. “I just enjoy it.”

By the time he was in the fourth grade, Tyler Biggs, now 14, was ready for a challenge. He joined his first traveling team and has been playing baseball year-round ever since. Tyler spent the past two seasons catching for the Gulf Coast Greyhounds, helping lead the team to a second-place finish at a recent national tournament in Walt Disney World.

This spring, Tyler will spend much of his time playing behind home plate for the Mustangs.

Following in the footsteps of her older brother, Maddie began playing softball when she was 5 years old. And she too has been playing travel ball since she was in the fourth grade.

At 4-foot-6, Maddie is nearly a foot shorter than her brother, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t willing to challenge her brother behind home plate.

“Maddie is a better catcher because she blocks the ball better than I do,” Tyler said. “She’s smaller, so she moves a lot quicker behind home plate. But when you’re bigger it’s easier to get those high balls.”

This past spring, Tyler and his father, Bill, coached Maddie’s recreational and all-star teams as a way for the two to spend more time together while sharing their knowledge of the game with Maddie’s teammates.

And this fall, Maddie will begin her third year with her Suncoast Storm 10U traveling team where she serves as the team’s starting catcher and one of its team captains.

Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].

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