FORT MYERS, Fla. – It’s been three weeks ago already that Woodstock, Ga., standout switch-hitting outfielder Skye Bolt was extended an invitation to play in the Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings. He remembers the circumstances vividly.
“I was in the car with some buddies and my father (Mike Bolt) was driving,” Bolt recalled. “We were coming home from a game in Athens and I got a call from (Perfect Game President) Mr. Jerry Ford and he notified me. Me and my family were ecstatic. It was a good time.”
Bolt is here this week participating in the PG 18u BCS Finals with the East Cobb Braves 17u, a team ranked No. 2 in the PG 18u Travel Team National Rankings. This is the same team that won last week’s PG WWBA 17u National Championship in their home-base of Marietta, Ga.
Bolt’s focus this week is leading the Braves to the 18u BCS Finals championship and getting fitted for yet another ring on Friday afternoon. But he also took time to reflect on being selected to play in the most prestigious high school baseball all-star game in the country.
“It’s a great honor, obviously, and I never really thought that I’d be a position to do this so quickly,” Bolt said Sunday before his team’s first two scheduled games at the 18u BCS Finals were washed-out by a persistent thunderstorm.
“It’s truly quite an honor and I’m still in shock today just thinking about it,” he said, “and I’m really excited to get out there – absolutely.”
The 2011 Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings – formerly known as the Aflac All-American Classic – aims the glare of the spotlight directly on 42 of the nation’s top prospects in an all-star game will be played Aug. 14 in San Diego at the Padres’ PETCO Park, and will be televised live by the CBS Sports Network (5 p.m. PDT).
“If you would have asked me a year ago if I would have been on (a PG All-American Classic roster) I would have told you ‘not in a million years,’” Bolt said. “Through hard work and with … the whole East Cobb organization and a bunch of guys helping me to get better, and believing in something – whenever the right guy is there watching, that’s what we believe in.”
Two of Bolt’s Braves 17u teammates will also be in San Diego next month: left-hander Matthew Crownover and right-hander/first baseman Tucker Simpson. Duane Underwood, who is playing in the 17u BCS Finals with the East Cobb Astros 16u, gives East Cobb Baseball a fourth PG All-American this year.
“It’s just evidence of how many guys we are surrounded by (at ECB) that know exactly what they’re doing and who are willing to put the time and effort into us,” Bolt said. “Me and my family cannot agree enough with the statement that this is the best place to be.”
EC Braves 17u head coach Kevin Baldwin defers all accolades to his players.
“I’m just real proud of them for working hard to get to this point and have the opportunity to do it,” he said. “For them to be picked is a real honor for the kids and also an honor for our program.
“It’s more important that it proves the kids worked hard to get to that point and it’s more about them – it’s not really about me or about East Cobb.”
Bolt, the nation’s 75th-ranked top prospect in the 2012 class, has verbally committed to play baseball at North Carolina. He is one of eight EC Braves 17u team members who have committed to NCAA Division I schools: Crownover (Clemson), Simpson (Georgia Tech), Jordan Ebert (Auburn), Mason Felt (Oregon State), Matt Gonzalez (Georgia Tech), Nathan Mikolas (Louisville) and David Sosebee (Georgia) are the others.
Because of Sunday’s heavy and persistent rain showers, the Braves 17u weren’t scheduled to play their first game at the 18u BCS Finals until mid-afternoon Monday. If the rain stays away, they’ll be more than ready to go.
“We’re coming in here with a chip on our shoulders still,” Bolt said. “We’re the target to beat, I feel like, and we’re just down here again to prove ourselves. If we play loose, play our game, play like we’re supposed to and play easy, free baseball – loosey-goosey is the term we like to use – if we play loosey-goosey we’re going to be OK, and we expect to win this.”