Tournaments : : Story
Saturday, March 18, 2017

TNXL runs through Showdown

Vincent Cervino        
Photo: Perfect Game

EMERSON, Ga. – “I think we’re the hardest working team in the country."

Tournament MV-Pitcher Jack Leftwich echoed the sentiment of the entire TNXL Academy Ducks team with his thoughts on the teams overall tournament performance. 

The TNXL Ducks defeated Next Level Academy by a score of 7-1 in Saturday night's championship game that capped an impressive run by the Ducks all tournament. After Next Level took an early lead in the top of the first inning, the Ducks stormed back to score seven unanswered and take home the trophy. 

The Ducks were extremely confident coming into this event, after participating in the Showdown-Academies a year prior, and it showed on the field. They ran through the field, posting an absurd run differential of 60 runs scored to only three runs against.

The strength of their pitching staff is the obvious factor to highlight, after the arms for the Ducks allowed only three runs for the entire event, an average of a half of run per game. Leftwich performed admirably during his outing and it was a big one. He twirled a gem, a complete game shutout in the semifinals while striking out 10 batters.

“Fastball and slider were working and my command was really important," said Leftwich. "They (CBC Elite, TNXL's semifinal opponent) were really aggressive so I just let them keep getting themselves out.”

Not to be outdone was the starter of the championship game Ryan Dease. The righthander tossed five innings of one-run ball in the championship game to bring his event total to 18 strikeouts in 10 innings while only allowing one earned run.

The offense was also locked in for the entire event, scoring an average of 10 runs per game. The tournament MVP Elijah Cabell is the cog that makes the offense turn, providing a ton of offensive value from the two-hole. Cabell hit over .500 while leading the team in runs scored and hitting a home run, part of a back-to-back-to-back that showcased TNXL's offensive prowess early in the tournament.

“I was staying simple and seeing the ball really well," said Cabell. "I was making really good contact to start off; going to the opposite field. I knew they were going to pitch me away so I tried to relax and not do too much. I know my ability and my ability is strong enough to go out there and compete. I made contact and the ball did good things.”

The amount of talent and execution of ability can be boiled down to the hard work, dedication, and focus that comes from TNXL's core message. These players have been playing together for a long time and they work extremely hard to stay in top shape and be able to perform to the best of their abilities. This seeps through when talking to the players as they are quick to give credit to the organization as a whole and, obviously, the amount of work and effort that they put in to the sport.

“I think we’re the hardest working team in the country," said Leftwich. "Everyday we’re in the weight room and focusing on our hitting and pitching. There’s not another school in the country that does that together, every day, for five days a week. We just came in here and let all that hard work and effort show on the field.”

TNXL prides themselves on their hard work and determination. Those factors would aptly describe the performance of the Ducks over the weekend but it goes beyond one tournament. Head coach Brian Martinez wants to make sure his players are developing and preparing to succeed at the next level and beyond. 

“TNXL is a state of the art facility that we run our training out of. It is an everyday grind: they run every day, they hit every day, they throw every day, our pitchers are consistently working. For us, we’re trying to get these kids ready for the next level. This isn’t about winning championships this is about development, and if they develop in the right way and did things the right way, then at the next level they are going to be competitive. That’s our focus at TNXL.”

Hard work and determination aren't the only descriptors of the program as Martinez focuses on preparedness and consistency, the latter of which is key to success in the sport of baseball.

“Preparation is our focus," said Martinez. "We work harder than most high schools in the country and we get to stay together every single day. What I told them coming into this, from last years’ experience, is consistency. If we can be prepared and stay consistent then we are going to win.”

Regardless of how focused or prepared a team is, there is nothing quite like the sweet taste of victory. The state of Florida does not afford academies the opportunity to compete for a state championship, so to the Ducks winning the PG High School Showdown-Academies is even better than a state title.

“I’ll tell you what, this is like a state championship for us," said Martinez. "We talk about this event as soon as they step on campus in August. It’s a big deal to be able to do this because we’re not offered this in Florida. To be able to come up here and do it on a high scale with professional scouts here and have PG run it, it’s first class as usual.”

Coming into this event, and now securing the title for it, TNXL had a swagger about them from the get-go. They knew internally that they were the best team and they did their talking on the field. TNXL can walk away knowing that they came to Emerson, Georgia and took care of business while putting the rest of the country on notice as to just how talented and hard-working they are. Their swagger was apparent both on the field and off, but MVP Cabell put it best.

“I thought we had the best pitching staff, the best hitters, and were the best team overall. We had a lot of confidence as a team we’ve been together since we were little. We knew exactly what we had to do. The chemistry and energy was very strong.”

The Next Level Academy was dominant in their own right over the course of the three-day event. Coming into the playoffs they had only allowed three runs to score, which allowed them to clinch the No. 2 seed in bracket play, and made it to the championship game after defeating East Cobb Academy by a score of 6-3 in the semifinals.

2017 Perfect Game High School Showdown-Academies runner-up: Next Level Academy

2017 Perfect Game High School Showdown-Academies MVP: Elijah Cabell

2017 Perfect Game High School Showdown-Academies MV-Pitcher: Jack Leftwich

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