Tournaments | Story | 6/23/2019

D-I recruits carry Sticks' legacy

Annika Wall        
Photo: Bobby Walker (Perfect Game)

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – After only earning one hit in their first game of the inaugural WWBA 15u Prospect Meadows National Championship, Sticks Baseball Academy went red-hot to outscore their opponents 34-1 to finish pool play. They enter bracket play as the top seed, something head coach Kyle Slayton credits to what they do on defense.

"When we hit the ball, we’re going to be hard to beat because we’re so good on the mound and in the field,” Slayton said. “It’s a really good, talented bunch who can really pitch, really play defense.”

Seven different members of Sticks BA visited the mound in the tournament’s four pool play games, but one face was found elsewhere. Colton Sims verbally committed to Arkansas as a right-handed pitcher and is ranked 75th nationally in the class of 2022 by Perfect Game. Instead, he took the field at shortstop and the outfield, saving his pitching prowess for tournament play.

“It’s a big role to play all over the place, especially in the infield,” Sims said. “It takes a lot of footwork, fielding, a lot of stuff. You really have to think.”

With Sims in the infield, Sticks BA had another Division I commit taking charge in the outfield. Center fielder Bobby Walker, who boasts an outfield velocity of 91 mph, verbally committed to Missouri. His cannon might not have needed to prove itself in pool play but may prove vital in Sticks BA’s search for a tournament title.

Walker attended a Missouri camp in January, the same time as other members of his team went to the PG West MLK Championship in Phoenix, Ariz. Afterward, he kept in touch with the college’s coaching staff, who eventually extended him an offer to play for them. In the short time they played together, though, Walker credits Sims with the opportunity to go D-I.

“He made me a lot better,” Walker said. “I was just scrolling through Instagram one day and saw ‘Colton Sims: Razorbacks.’ He really made me step up my game to get better, and long tossing with him made me stronger. It’s awesome playing with another D-I player.”

Sims had a similar journey to D-I commitment. At the urging of Sticks' Director and coach Chase Brewster, he attended an Arkansas camp and, as Sims said, started the first game “out of nowhere.” Following the game, he talked with the coaching staff, who asked if he would want to be a Razorback.

“I was like ‘you dang right I do,’” Sims said with a smile.

They’re far from the first players to commit D-I after competing on a Sticks BA team. In the 2018 MLB draft alone, 10 former Sticks were drafted. The program also boasts 102 total college commitments, many of which went or are going Division-I.

“Our head guy Chase Brewster does a superb job in finding kids, not just in the state of Arkansas,” Slayton said. “We have kids from everywhere, especially that play on his team. He coaches the 17u. The kids love him, and they love to play for him, but he works his tail off for him. What happens is, you get some good players playing on teams and then other good players want to play with them. You’ll get a call from a kid from Arizona or a kid from Kansas City who asks ‘Coach, are you looking for a player?’ That’s just where the program is at.”

As part of the Sticks legacy, Sims and Walker will look toward a tournament title in Iowa. They’ll face off against the winner of the MN Icemen – Spencer and Sluggers Baseball 2022 in the tournament quarterfinals. Sticks BA previously defeated the Icemen 12-0 in a shutout victory in pool play. 

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