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Stephens taking lessons from East Cobb to Aflac game
Jim Ecker        
Published: Tuesday, July 14, 2009

MARIETTA, Ga. -- Brandon Stephens is not an expert about all the hot-spots for youth baseball in America, but he knows first-hand about one of them. Stephens lives in Marietta, Ga., and swears by the East Cobb Baseball Academy and the East Cobb Complex.

"I love this park," Stephens said after playing for the East Cobb Astros in the World Wood Bat Association 17U National Championships that ended Monday. "I've played here since I was 14. It's great."

Stephens will be taking what he's learned in the East Cobb program to the prestigious Aflac High School All-American Classic, to be played Aug. 16 at PETCO Park in San Diego. He's a 6-foot,180-pound catcher and pitcher with talent.

The East Cobb program features 74 teams in 11 age groups this season, ranging from 8-and-under through 18-and-under. There are eight fields at the East Cobb Complex and an abundance of batting cages for the players to use.

Stephens has travelled to Orlando, Omaha, Minneapolis and Fort Myers for tournaments, and there are plenty of major Perfect Game events in Marietta. Stephens is convinced that playing for East Cobb has been a major factor in his development as a ballplayer and Aflac All-American.

"I think it's great," he said. "For one, it gets you ready to play college ball. And two, it gets you seen by colleges. We face a lot of good competition. This is the greatest place in the country to play. People come from all over the country to play here."

Stephens is thinking about attending Georgia or South Carolina next year after he graduates from high school, if he doesn't turn pro. "Two great programs," he said.

Stephens began coming to the East Cobb Complex before he was old enough to play here. He was here in 1999 when a local hgh school team won a national title, an impression that carried a lot of weight with a 7-year-old boy.

"I remember coming up and watching them, and I just couldn't wait to get on that field," he said.

Stephens has lived in Marietta, a suburn of Atlanta, all his life, and baseball is a big part of the routine. "Yeah, it starts early," he said. "I started playing travel ball when I was 10 years old. Most of these kids start early."

Stephens has played a lot of baseball, at very high levels, and sounds genuinely excited about heading to San Diego for the Aflac game.

"It's amazing," he said. "I remember a kid from my high school team made the Aflac team, and that was the first time I heard about it. I was like, 'Wow, that would be great to play in that.' It sounds like a lot of fun. You get to go to California and you do a lot of different things."
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