Tournaments : : Story
Monday, July 28, 2014

Team Alabama stands out

Sam Brazenas        

EMERSON, Ga. - Team Alabama came out ready to compete at the 17u/18u PG/EvoShield Classic this weekend at Perfect Game Park South at LakePoint. Their roster, full of 15 and 16-year-olds, is not only competing, but beating 17 and 18-year-old teams.

“These are a bunch of hard working 15 and 16-year-old kids,” said head coach Angelo Nicolosi. “Playing in 18u tournaments like this, I feel these kids are really putting themselves in good situations to succeed. I honestly can tell you I don’t believe we played in any of our own level tournaments this year. The kids knew that going in it wasn’t going to be an easy road but I’m very proud of how they’ve played.”

Their first game of the tournament was a fairly easy victory, but on Saturday, it wasn’t as easy, as they scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to win the game.

“I don’t know if things could have gone any worse. We hit into a bunch of double plays, but the kids kept battling and late in the game we executed a couple of bunts and did what we needed to do at the right time and put us in the victory column,” recalled Nicolosi.

Team Alabama took home their third victory in another back-and-fourth game against GBSA Blue Rays on Sunday. Austin Kitterman spent all seven innings on the mound, giving up only three runs and striking out five.

“I just try to go out and work fast and throw strikes and let my defense work and every once in a while I get lucky and strike someone out,” said Kitterman. “My weakest pitch today was my curveball. It didn’t fall where I wanted it to, and it ended up a little high and they got a couple hits off of it. But we got the win and that’s all that matters.”

Kitterman, a right-handed pitcher, also plays center field and third base for Team Alabama. He is a 2016 grad, but says he really enjoys playing the older teams instead of teams his age.

“It’s something I’ve done since 8th grade,” said Kitterman about playing up. “I played varsity ball, so I’ve always played the older guys, but I like it a lot. It’s great because the scouts aren’t here to see the 15-year-old kids, they’re here to see the older kids. So when they’re looking at the older kids they end up seeing you too, so it’s really good if you show out and shine when they’re here.”

Team Alabama also did well at the plate on Sunday. Logan Brashier, John Marc Mullins and Alex Weeks all had RBI singles. Sam Praytor went 1-for-3 with a single and racked up an RBI on a sac-fly.

“I didn’t play the field today, I DH’d,” explained Praytor. “I’m doing pretty well so far. I’ve been catching good I’m batting around 300, but the tournament’s not over yet so I’m hoping to do better these next few games.”

Team Alabama is now 3-0 and holds the No. 1 spot in their pool. They have played in many tournaments this summer including the 18u East Cobb Invitational, WWBA 18u and 17u National Championships, and the 18u BCS Finals.

“We had a lot of fun,” said Kitterman about playing in Perfect Game tournaments this summer. “We didn’t finish where we wanted to, but we’re all 15 and 16, so just being able to compete and be able to play has been a blessing. It’s such an honor to be able to play this great game and play a lot of great competition.”

“I have played in them myself, and I think they’ve done a wonderful job keeping up with this. I think this facility is outstanding, I think it’s only going to get bigger and better and I feel that it gives kids more and more opportunities,” explained Nicolosi. “Between the East Cobb Complex, the LakePoint Complex, and all the surrounding high schools and community, it really puts the kids on a national level. Kids will come here and play and maybe not be as successful as they are in high school but they’re raising the bar. The caliber of talent is the best in the country and a lot better than what they usually play in high school.”

Team Alabama is an organization that is focused on developing its players to prepare them for the next level of baseball and life.

“Team Alabama is not a team that is chasing trophies,” explained Nicolosi. “At the end of the day we would all like to win, but we’re all about developing the kids. As you guys can tell by looking at the ages and the birth dates on the kids, it’s all about getting them better and getting them to the next level.”

“It’s such a blessing having coaches who actually care about us,” added Kitterman. “They could probably care less if we won more tournaments, or what happens in the game, but they care about how we turn out as men and how we turn out in college.”

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