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Tournaments  | Story  | 6/29/2021

Florida Heat Warming Up at 14u BCS

Sam Warren     
Photo: Noah Sheffield (Perfect Game)
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- While most of the young faces participating in the 2021 14u BCS National Championship have aspirations to make it to the major leagues one day, few teams have the opportunity that Florida Heat Baseball 14u has to learn first hand what it takes to get there.
 
The squad out of Tampa, Fla. is led by head coach Gary Sheffield, former batting champ and nine-time All-Star. While the World Series champion draws high-profile attention to his squad, Sheffield’s name does not overshadow his player’s capabilities. The Heat are the 11th-ranked team in the nation and second-ranked team in the Florida-Puerto Rico region. The Heat have shown why they are so highly touted so far in 2021, compiling a 19-4-2 record since January and taking home the 2021 14U PG North Florida Kickoff and 2021 PG 14U East Spring Opener titles back in March.
 
The top-tier team is led by a trio of Sheffields up the middle. Turning double plays at second and shortstop are Christian and Noah Sheffield, two of Gary’s sons. Noah is the 75th-ranked player in the 2024 class and the second-ranked shortstop out of Florida, while Christian looks to be one of the top players in the class of 2026. Behind the two brothers is Se’An Sheffield, the duo’s cousin, in center field, who is rising up the ranks in the class of 2025. While Coach Sheffield enjoys his time out on the field with his family, he remains committed to making the next generation the best ballplayers they can be.
 
“I’m probably harder on them than they are themselves,” Sheffield said. “But, it’s all fun. As a father, you try and separate the relationship as a dad and just be a coach, and that takes care of itself off the field.”
 
Through the first four days of the BCS, the Heat have stayed true to their winning ways, building a 3-0-1 record heading into Tuesday. After beating ZT Elite 14u Guzman, 9-3, Monday morning and Florida Burn 2025 National, 7-3, later in the evening, the Heat carry a remarkable +31 run differential through their first five games. Despite his team’s early success, coach Sheffield knows the opposition only gets more difficult down the road.
 
“It’s gonna be competitive games,” Sheffield said. “We just have to stay alert and pay attention to the details to win these games.”
 
The Heat lived up to their name to start their game against ZT Elite, sizzling at the plate in the top of the first. After Christian Sheffield drew a leadoff walk, Dominic Woodward lined an RBI double to left, bringing in Sheffield and the game’s first run. Noah Sheffield then shot an RBI single up the middle and proceeded to advance to second and steal third. Maximus Mayes took advantage of Noah’s opportune baserunning, poking a sacrifice fly to center and giving the Heat a 3-0 lead. Coach Sheffield believes that the team’s early start offensively helped out all phases of his team’s play.
 
“We brought our bats again and came out swinging,” Sheffield said. “We got an early lead, which helps the pitcher out a lot because now he can go out there and not feel like he has to be perfect.”
 
The Heat bats stayed hot in the second, as walks loaded the bases for Woodward. The 104th-ranked player in the class of 2025 came through again for his team, lining an RBI single up the middle to score Andreas AlvarezNoah Sheffield kept the line moving, scoring Matthew Midyett on a fielder’s choice to third and extending the Heat lead to five runs. The shortstop said he kept his mindset simple to be successful on Monday.
 
“I took a slow approach at the plate to make sure I hit the ball hard,” Sheffield said. “I just wanted to help my teammates score, and I did that well.”
 
ZT didn’t go down quietly, however. Behind a Damian Montanez RBI double and a Joephillip Guzman RBI single, ZT posted three runs in the third to dig into the Heat lead. That is where the ZT counter punch ended, though, as the combination of Yvan Douglas and Matthew Midyett allowed just three baserunners over the next three innings. Despite the rally, coach Sheffield was proud of the way his starter performed.
 
“Yvan threw a great game, and the defense mostly backed him up,” Gary Sheffield said. “We made a couple of gaffes in the field, but we were able to recover with the bats.”
 
While the Heat couldn’t muster any runs in the third, their offense regained their fire in the fourth. After Christian Sheffield lined a single to left and Woodward walked, Noah Sheffield drilled a ground ball to short for a fielder’s choice, scoring his younger brother.
 
The Heat continued to add in the fifth via some savvy baserunning from Se’An Sheffield. After drawing a walk, the outfielder proceeded to steal second and third, then caused the ZT pitcher to balk, bringing himself all the way around the basepaths. 
 
In the sixth, the Heat capped off their impressive offensive display with a Douglas two-RBI double, scoring Midyett and Christian Sheffield. After coming around to score, Midyett continued to dominate on the mound, striking out three in the bottom of the inning to close down a 9-3 Heat victory. Coach Sheffield believed his team’s preparation leading up to the tournament has been critical in their strong showing.
 
“These kids have practiced so much,” the elder Sheffield said. “We’ve been able to get the work against all the great teams that are here, and they’ve been showing they’re practiced on the field now.”
 
Other than the difficult third inning, Douglas shined, striking out four over four innings and working up to 83 mph on his fastball. Midyett excelled in relief as well, tossing two shutout innings and striking out four while only allowing one baserunner.
 
The Heat offense cooled off slightly to begin their second game of the day against the Burn, but their performance on the bump stayed red-hot. Noah Sheffield started the game for the Heat, tossing two shutout innings, striking out three and allowing just one hit. Demarion Abrams picked up where Sheffield left off, throwing two more shutout innings and striking out one.
 
After going scoreless in the first three innings, the Heat offense charged back up in the fourth as Woodward lined a leadoff single to right. Douglas then drilled a double to right as well, advancing Woodward to third. With two runners in scoring position, Mayes poked a sacrifice fly to right, bringing home Woodward and plating the first run of the game. Noah said that as the team has progressed through the tournament, they’ve figured out how to come through in clutch situations.
 
“We got the kinks out in the beginning,” Sheffield said. “Now, we’re smooth. We’ve been able to push through some struggles and pull out some team wins.”
 
However, the Burn produced some offense of their own in the fourth, plating their first runs to give them a 3-1 lead. The Heat’s first deficit of the day may have been the adversity they needed to get back in order, as their bats fired back to score four runs in the bottom of the inning behind RBI doubles from Midyett and Noah Sheffield, retaking their lead. In the sixth, the Heat added some insurance, scoring two more runs on a Christopher Hemmings RBI double and an Alvarez groundout. By the time Se’An Sheffield stepped to the plate in the inning, time had run out for the game, giving the Heat a 7-3 victory.
 
While coach Sheffield is proud of his team’s performance and expects his team to be in the hunt come championship day, he believes his primary objective is to continue growing his young players.
 
“Every goal, every time we play a tournament, is to get better,” Sheffield said. “We want everyone to pay attention to detail, do the little things, always improve as a player. Not just as a team, but individually as well.”