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Tournaments | Story | 6/10/2019

From Team Georgia to the SEC

Jack Nelson        
Photo: Michael Fowler (Perfect Game)

ATLANTA, Ga. – Arkansas and Auburn punched the last two tickets to Omaha today. In a little over a year, members of Team Georgia 17u National will be stepping on campus at their respective schools and will begin their journey on the quest for the College World Series.

With four SEC schools headed to Omaha, there is good reason to believe we will see one of the current Team Georgia players at TD Ameritrade Park in the next couple years. That is because they currently have 15 Division I commits on their roster, 10 of which are pledges to SEC schools.

“I think it’s going to be really cool,” said LSU commit Michael Fowler. “Everywhere we travel, I’m going to have some friends on the other team.”

“It’s such a small world,” added Alabama commit Will Portera. “I’m going to Alabama with a couple of these guys. It’s going to be a lot of fun on those fields.”

Both Fowler and Portera praised the role Team Georgia and coach Chris McRaney in their recruitment.

“Playing for Team Georgia just gave me so much exposure,” Fowler said. “And then Coach McRaney has so many connections. It worked out for me.”

“Coach McRaney really helped me,” said Portera. “I’ve gotten to play on teams with guys that are better than me, with guys that are already committed. And that brings out a lot of scouts. I liked having the peace of mind that if I just play well, then people will notice.”

Many high schools kids commit to colleges, but few fully understand that signing your letter of intent is just the beginning. To play at the SEC level, and to play as a freshman, requires an extra gear to push yourself. Between the speed of the game and the strength of the players, college baseball is just a different animal. Portera and Fowler know that the work they are doing know is critically important.

“I definitely need to get stronger, quicker, more athletic,” said Portera. “I know college is a different game.”

Fowler echoed his teammates sentiments.

“I really need to focus on the little details of pitching,” he said. “And I’m lucky I have Coach McRaney to work with.”

With the benefit of years of coaching, McRaney also takes responsibility in preparing his players not just for college baseball, but the pros.

“I’m trying to teach them the details,” said McRaney.

One such instance of this occurred in the first inning of today’s pool play game. Team Georgia got a walk from Portera, the leadoff hitter, who then stole second. Reagan Burfurd, an Ole Miss commit, moved Portera over by slapping a grounder to the second base. Next, Tennessee commit Hunter Ensley lifted a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Portera.

“We’re trying to teach them about counts, about what the pitcher is trying to do to get your out,” McRaney said. “We have elite level arms. Elite level defenders. Elite hitters. But at the end of the day, it’s not about wins and losses for me. It is when they get to Mississippi State or Auburn or Georgia, and I hear they are prepared. That is the biggest thing for me.”

Team Georgia moved to 3-0 in pool play of the WWBA 17U National Championship Qualifier and coach McRaney believes the sky is the limit for his guys.

“We won the 17u WWBA last year, and we arguably had the best team in the country,” McRaney said. “I think this group is more talented, but we have some things to work on.”



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