15U Travel Team Rankings
The Indiana Prospects 15-and-under national travel team played in its first Perfect Game USA national tournament this summer and wasted no time making history.
The Prospects, with enthusiastic coach Shane Stout directing traffic, attended the Perfect Game 15U BCS Finals in Fort Myers, Fla., July 7-12, and became not only the first team from a northern state to win the 15U BCS Finals, but also the first team based in Indiana to win a Perfect Game national tournament in the company's 17 year history.
"We had done other events in the past and this was our first experience with Perfect Game," Stout said. "I'd always heard the stories about the competition and that's where you need to (go) to get your kids in front of some of these college coaches."
Stout also took his 15U Prospects team to the Perfect Game 2013 Grads/15U WWBA National Championship at the East Cobb Complex in Marietta, Ga., July 20-25, where it lost in the semifinal round of the playoffs. Those performances helped earn the Indiana Prospects the No. 1 ranking in Perfect Game's final summer 15U National Rankings.
Stout his team went "full-bore" into both Perfect Game 15U tournaments this summer and felt ready for both national events. Winning the BCS Finals was, obviously, the crowning achievement, one that even exceeded Stout's initial expectations.
"Going into Florida, we had had a good season so far, and I felt pretty confident just because of our pitching depth that we could do well," Stout said. "When I say 'well' in a tournament of that magnitude I was looking at getting to the final couple rounds. (Reaching the semifinals), we would have walked away and felt completely happy with that.
"But as competitive as it is, the more you win you never want to settle for anything less."
Stout was putting all of his eggs in his pitching staff's basket. He said he had so much quality depth on the staff that if the Prospects kept winning they could wear down the other teams that didn't have as much depth.
"The other coaches had kind of mentioned when we were talking that they didn't know who was going to have pitching left," Stout said. "I had eight kids who were over 85, 86 miles per hour, and I was working the opposite way. My No. 6 could be my No. 1."
The Prospects went 5-1 in pool play with its only loss a 1-0 setback to the Ark-La-Tex Tornados. They beat the West Cobb Cardinals, 9-1, in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs, then prepared to face the powerful East Cobb Astros in the semifinals. Stout said it was when his team came from behind to win that game, 6-4, that the magnitude of what the Prospects were accomplishing finally hit home.
"You're looking across the diamond at arguably one of the best organizations in the history of travel baseball," he said. "That was huge for us."
It was about get even bigger. With the semifinal win over East Cobb in their pocket, the Prospects moved on to the championship game to face the St. Petersburg Hurricanes at City of Palms Stadium in Fort Myers.
"I'm kind of a believer in that you have to get there to be able to lose it, and I was happy with getting there," Stout said. "But when the game started I wanted to win, too."
The Prospects won the championship game, 7-1, behind tournament Most Valuable Pitcher Brennan Milby (Greensburg, Ky., 2013) and tournament Most Valuable Player Joe Dudek (Wall Township, N.J., 2013).
Milby, a right-hander, went 2-0 with two complete games, and gave up 10 hits and two earned runs in 12 innings (1.50 ERA) while striking out six. Dubek, a first baseman, was 14-for-25 (.560) with six doubles, 11 RBIs and 11 runs scored.
The Indiana Prospects are based in Indianapolis and 15U Prospects had seven players from Indiana, but the roster also included players from Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and Florida.
Other top players who contributed to the BCS Finals championship were shortstop Ryan Spaulding (Converse, Ind., 2012), right fielder Adam Bleday (Titusville, Pa., 2013), center fielder Nolan Rogers (Bloomington, Ind., 2013), right-hander Josh Bartley (Bowling Green, Ky., 2012) and pitcher Zac Ryan (Valparaisio, Ind., 2013).
Built on strong pitching and rock-solid defense, the Prospects outscored their nine opponents, 75-8, at the BCS Finals.
"Still, to this day, we kind of look at it and say, 'Did it really happen?' and you got to kind of pinch yourself," Stout said. "I also know, in that same breath, we have the best (15U) team in the United States, and while there are a lot of other good programs out there, we'll play who's ever in the other dugout."
Under the direction of founder Mark Peters, Indiana Prospects Baseball grew from a one team operation seven years ago to a 10-team program this summer. Peters took special delight in watching the 15U Prospects win the BCS Finals.
"I keep in touch with all our teams and they certainly had a hell of a year," Peters said. "We've had a lot of success, and (quality) coaches want to be involved with us just because of the way we conduct ourselves on and off the field."
Stout is now in the process of building a championship-caliber 16U team for next summer using the nucleus of the this year's 15U team. He has already added a couple of left-handed pitchers to the roster.
"It's exciting and we're going to do it again next year" with a 16U team, Stout said. "Our goal is to put them out there in Perfect Game events in front of everybody, and play the best competition in the world and put them in front of the college coaches that are in attendance. It's all about credibility and (people) know when you show up at a Perfect Game event and you do that well, you're playing the best."