Tournaments | Story | 7/12/2019

Canes loaded once again

Jack Nelson        
Photo: Cole Young (Perfect Game)

MARIETTA, Ga. – The college coaches present to watch Canes National 15u on Friday afternoon represented a who’s who of college baseball. Vanderbilt. Mississippi State. Clemson. Louisville. North Carolina. Duke. The list goes on. And those who came to The Walker School got quite a show, as the Canes overwhelmed US Elite Mid Atlantic, 13-0, to open pool play at the WWBA 15u National Championship.

One week ago Canes National hoisted the trophy at the 17u National Championship. That roster was stacked with future professional talent. This 15u group is no different, as they have assembled a team that features seven players ranked in the top 40 of Perfect Game’s high school class of 2022, namely, Nathan Fink (No. 11), Cole Young (No. 13), Tristan Smith (18), James Triantos (No. 23), Mason Neville (No. 27), Lamar King (No. 38), and Travis Sanders (No.39).

“We try to bring in good young men,” Canes coach John Batchelor said. “We’ve gotten to the point where we can be selective with our players. We have a really fine group here. They’re quality, selfless young men. They’re here to have fun, get better, and be around players that are as good if not better than them. And of course, they have the opportunity to win a national championship.”

It’s a lineup full of stars, but Cole Young seemed to shine the brightest on Friday. The Duke commit went 2-for-2 with a double and three RBIs. On defense, the shortstop had scouts and fans buzzing about a play he made on a groundball up the middle. Young ranged to his glove side, picked the short hop, spun, and fired a perfect throw to first base to nail the runner.

Young’s wide skill set is a big reason why he was selected to the 2018 14u PG Select Baseball Festival.

“I’ll never forget it,” he said of the event. “It was incredible to be around all those great players. The gear was pretty awesome, too.”

While many of his teammates are currently experiencing the stresses of college recruitment, Young already has his decision locked up. While the Wexford, Pa., native just finished his freshman year of high school, he has already committed to Duke University. The Blue Devil program has ascended to new heights the last two seasons, coming a game away from Omaha each year. When Young gets to Durham in the fall of 2022, he hopes to help bring them to the Promised Land.

“I love all the coaches there,” he said. “They were a top 20 team this year, making it to the brink of the College World Series. The academics mean a lot to me, too.”

Young is very polished on the field, and handles himself with confidence and professionalism off it. He says nothing would be possible without his family.

“My dad has had a major influence on my career,” he said. “He doesn’t really push me because I’m already driven, but he is always willing to go down to the field with me. My brother has had a huge impact as well. He’s taught me how to be a good person, on and off the field.”

Like Young, Lamar King also participated in the 2018 14u PG Select Festival. King is ranked as the top catcher and top overall player in the state of Maryland. The physically built 6-foot-3, 195-pound backstop is enjoying his time surrounded by top talent.

“It was probably the best time of my life. I got to meet all the best kids in the country, and all the gear we got was great,” King said of the Festival. “This week is cool, too.  I love being with the boys. We just came from the 16u National Championship. The chemistry is excellent right now. It’s a lot of fun.”

King has not made his college decision yet. His Perfect Game profile lists his interests as Clemson, LSU, and UNC. It’s a hectic time, but it’s something that King is thoroughly enjoying as he sifts through his choices.

“It’s a lot. It’s hectic,” he said. “There are a lot of phone calls, but it’s fun. That’s what you want.”

The Canes have had over 1200 alums go on to play college baseball, and over 250 have been drafted. For 15u coach John Batchelor, this is not his first rodeo. And in an age now when kids want to commit somewhere and post their decision on Twitter and Instagram, Batchelor advises his boys to take it slow.

“They’re growing up in an environment that is pretty aggressive, but we tell them to be patient with the recruiting process,” Batchelor said. “Mainly, we tell them to ignore the outside stuff and play between the lines. Enjoy the game they have and take advantage of the opportunities provided for them.”

Moving forward, the Canes appear to be in excellent shape. The four inning, mercy rule decision on Friday means that the pitching staff has been preserved. Starter Evan Siary threw just 42 pitches, and Mason Neville got the final three outs on only 11 pitches.

The arms are lined up, and the bats are hot. As we enter the third and final week of WWBA National Championship season, perhaps we will see the Canes crowned champions once again.

“We have such a talented team,” Young said. “Especially with this pitching staff. We also have a crazy lineup. One through nine, we don’t really have any weaknesses.”

But again, the Canes organization has been here before. And Batchelor is approaching the upcoming week with the cautious optimism of a veteran skipper.

“Our goal is to win each game,” he said. “We take it one game at a time. We want to win the pool, but to do that we have to take it day by day.”

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