Tournament August 5-8, 2016

This past weekend I played in a tournament with my travel team, Purpose Driven Baseball. We played in the Durham Athletic Park, where the Durham Bulls (Triple-A, Tampa Bay Rays) used to play. We went 3-1 on the weekend, with the lone loss coming in the semi-final game. I went 0 for 2, with two strikeouts and one sacrifice bunt.

Did Well:

  • Bunting: With runners on 1st and 2nd, I was able to put a sac bunt down the third base line to advance both runners one base. My teammate Jackson was able to come through with a clutch hit to score both runners. We ended up winning that game 3-2, so I was very happy that I was able to put the bunt down.
  • Attitude: Through four games, I played sparingly. It is very hard not to play a lot, but I felt like a did a good job of keeping my head up and doing my job on the bench to help the team win. I know that in baseball you don’t always get to play as much as you would like, so I believe God is preparing me for situations like this in the future.

Need to Improve On:

  • 1st and 3rd situations: I was on 3rd and the runner on 1st stole second. I stayed at third, but next time I need to recognize the ball is going past the pitchers head and then take off for home.
  • Mechanics: At the plate, I thought too much about mechanics, which I think was a big factor in me striking out twice. I need to simplify things as much as possible at the plate.

This upcoming weekend will be the last weekend of summer travel ball, and then the fall season will kick up after that.

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UNC Asheville 7/23/16

This past weekend I played at UNC Asheville.  I went 0-4 with 2 walks in 2 games, and we went 1-1 as a team. There was supposed to be a camp with the UNC Asheville staff, but it got rained out.

Did Well:

  • Fielding: I had no errors in the outfield and made a couple of catches on the run.
  • Attitude: There is always room for improvement, but I felt like I kept a positive attitude despite things not going my way at the plate. I am beginning to realize just how important attitude is in the game of baseball.

Need to Improve:

  • Bunting for a hit: I attempted to bunt for a hit, but it was a high and outside pitch and I fouled it straight back. I either need to take that pitch down the first base line, or be looking for a pitch that I could put down the third base line more easily.
  • Hands inside the ball: I am being short to the ball, but away from my body. I need to focus on keeping my hands even more inside the ball to get more consistent solid contact.
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Last Two HS Summer Games 2016

This past week I had my last two high school summer games of the year. I went 2-4 with a single, double and sac bunt. We went 1-1 on the week.

Did Well:

  • Bunting: I was very happy that I was able to lay down a sacrifice bunt on the first pitch in one of my at-bats. I put it in between the pitcher’s mound and the 3rd base line.
  • Seeing and Hitting: I was really seeing the ball well. I had a plan and I was ready to hit. I was loading earlier and slower which let me see the ball better.

Need to Improve: 

  • Sit Back and Drive: While I did do well hitting in these two games, I would like to be and be a little less on out in front on the ball and really see it as long as possible, while having a more aggressive swing.

I am now done with summer ball for high school, and my next baseball weekend will be at UNC Asheville.

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Holly Springs July 9-10 2016

This past weekend I played at the Holly Springs Salamanders Stadium with my travel team Purpose Driven Baseball. We went 2-0-1 on the weekend. We tied in one game due to time constraints. I went 0-5 on the weekend, but I felt like I had some quality at-bats that I will be able to build on for my next games.

Did Well:

  • Fielding: Though I didn’t have much hit to me the whole weekend, I was able to execute on the balls that were hit to me. Also, I made a nice running/jumping grab to save a run in the game that we tied.
  • Ground Balls and Walk: I was able to hit two hard ground balls this weekend along with one walk. My game right now needs to be hard ground balls and line drives.

Need to Improve On:

  • Foot Placement: In some of my swings this weekend my front foot was lifted up a little instead of  being planted on the ground. I need to keep that foot on the ground to prevent myself from losing power and/or spinning off of pitches.
  • Approach: I need to work on seeing the ball better and being more intentional with my actions at the plate. I need to have a last game approach so I can give all my effort and focus into that game.

This upcoming week I have two more HS summer games.

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Summer Game June 29th, 2016

I had my fourth summer high school baseball game today. I went 0-3 but made good, solid contact on two of the at-bats and hit a ball on the ground to third my other at-bat. A ground ball to third isn’t the best thing but it’s better than a pop-up. Heck, almost anything is better than a pop-up.

I was really happy with this game because I worked hard to improve the things I was struggling with and got good results.

Did Well:

  • Consistent Mental Approach: I had the same approach each at-bat which allowed me to be consistent. I was focused on attacking strikes and I hit the ball well as a result.
  • Line Drives, Ground Balls: I hit  the ball on a line or on the ground, which is where I need to hit it to get on base or have a productive at-bat.
  • Deep Fly Ball: I had almost the same kind of fly ball hit to me in this game that was hit to me in the last game on the 27th. I was able to be more smooth and see the ball all the way in and make a nice catch on the run.

Need to Improve On:

  • Letting the Ball Travel: All of my hits were to the pull side. I need to see the ball deeper and hit the ball middle/away. Now, some inside pitches need to be pulled but on the pitches on the middle to outer part of the plate I need to let them travel and drive them. I still hit the ball hard tonight, but ideally I hit the ball middle/away with those kinds of pitches.

My next HS summer game will be tomorrow.

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Summer Game June 27th, 2016

I had my third summer game for high school ball on Monday, June 27th. I went 1-3 on the game, with my one hit being a line drive to right field. I did some things well and there were some things I would like to improve on.

Did Well:

  • Using Right Field: On my hit I let the ball get deep instead of being out in front.
  • Mental Approach: In one of my previous articles, I talked about mental strength. I focused more on attacking strikes and being aggressive.

Need to Improve On: 

  • Throwing Form: I had a chance to double a guy off on a catch in the outfield, and my throw veered off to the left causing there to be no double play. I need to turn my shoulder in so I don’t have a whip-like motion in my throws. That will cause me to use my whole body and get more velocity on my throws and be more accurate.
  • Long Fly Ball: I was going back on a long fly ball and I had a chance to catch it. I didn’t have time to settle under it, but my head was going up and down causing me to not see the ball that well and not catch it.  I need to stay smooth so I can keep my vision focused on the ball and catch it.
  • Staying Consistent With My Mental Approach: I had a good approach the first at-bat but my approach wasn’t as strong the next two at-bats causing me to pop-up and ground out to third. I need to keep the same mental state the whole game.

My next game will be on the 29th and I’m looking forward to improving on these things and building on what I did well.

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NC State Workout and Game

This past Wednesday, June 22nd, I had a workout and game at North Carolina State University with my travel team Purpose Driven Baseball. We won our game and I had a walk in my one at-bat. I was able to work with Jason Roach and Inside Recruit during the workout.

Did well: 

  • Fielding: I made a nice running play in the outfield and my throws were hard and accurate.
  • Approach: In my one at-bat I was ready for strikes and took balls

In my post before this one, I talked about my first two summer games. Those two summer games happened before and after this NC State workout. I thought I did well in the State game, but I definitely need to improve from my summer games.

Need to improve (summer games):

  • Mental approach: I cannot take strikes anymore. I can’t get my self in a hole right away without giving myself a chance. By taking strikes, I increase my chances of striking out. I struck out three times because I took way too many strikes.
  • Short swing: On the pitches I did swing at, I was under the ball. I need to be more short and quick to the ball to create a more level swing. Below is an example.

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High School Summer Baseball, First 2 Games 2016

Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical”. At first it doesn’t make sense, but as you think about Yogi was spot on.

In the game of baseball, if you aren’t mentally strong there is no way possible that you can consistently succeed. I am experiencing this right now as I am not very mentally strong and am not having consistent success.

Honestly, it is extremely frustrating. The easy thing to do right now is to get angry, give up, and never take a step closer to getting better.

I went 0-3 in my first two high school summer ball games. I had 3 strikeouts and 1 walk. As a team we lost both games. I took 2 strikes each at bat, and then struck out swinging on a border line outside pitch each time.

I am going to be completely honest. I have struggled my whole baseball career to consistently hit the ball well. I guess you could call me insane, as Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I step into the box each time with the same mental approach and expect that something better will happen just because I am there and breathing.

And I know the one main reason that things aren’t happening like I want them to right now. Each time I step on the field I’m saying, “God, your strength and help aren’t enough for me so I’m going to turn to my own strength for this game.” If I don’t play with Jesus Christ, I have absolutely no chance at honoring Him with my play on the field.

The only way I can achieve mental strength is by completely relying on Jesus Christ. End of story.

Despite all of this going on, I know I have tremendous opportunity to change my ways. I am only 15 and haven’t even started my sophomore year of high school. I still have about 20 travel games left and 6 summer games left. I am looking forward to capitalizing on that opportunity that God has placed before me.

To wrap things up, I need to swing at strikes and take balls. As simple as that. I need to turn to Jesus for my strength.

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UNCW June 17-19th 2016

This past weekend I played at UNCW (University of North Carolina Wilmington) with my travel team Purpose Driven Baseball. As a team we did great, going 4-0 on the weekend.  I did not do good, going 1 for 7 with 2 walks. Even though I had a rough 4 games, I know what I need to work on and I’m confident that with more at-bats I will be able to figure it out.

On Saturday, I attended a camp at UNCW. We had a pro-style workout with some of the coaches of UNCW. I was really excited to be working with them because they are one of the top college baseball teams in the nation. I worked primarily with Coach Monday (hitting coach) and Coach Stott (student coach).

Things to Improve On:

  • Bunting: I wasn’t able to get a bunt down this weekend. I need to set my angle and catch the ball with my bat.
  • Bat angle and load step: My bat was pointed up in my load, causing me to pop up once and hit two weak grounders to second. My bat needs to be more flat (not totally flat) in my load so I can more consistently hit hard line drives. Also, right now my step in my load is pretty up and down. I need to bring my knee in and then down to create more rhythm and balance.

Things Done Well:

  • Field Play: I had no errors and my throws were accurate and hard.
  • Being a good teammate: I did a good job of picking up my teammates and encouraging them.
  • Being willing to make an adjustment: Even thought the weekend didn’t go as planned, I know what I need to work on and feel good about my game moving forward.

It was great to play at such a high level baseball college this weekend, and I look forward to my next baseball weekend. This upcoming Wednesday I will be at an all day camp at North Carolina State University.

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Tournament June 4th, 5th 2016

This past weekend I had my first tournament of the 2016 travel ball season with my team Purpose Driven baseball. We played at UNCP and Methodist. As a team, we had a rough weekend going 0-3. I didn’t do so great, going 1 for 6 with 2 walks.

I made solid contact twice, but both times it went right to someone. Also, I hit about a 305 foot pop-fly, the farthest I’ve hit a ball to this day.   Ironically, my lone hit of the weekend probably went about 8 feet. Hey, I’ll take it, a hit’s a hit.

Overall, I was very happy to be back on the ball field. I had about a month break in between school and travel ball and I was more than ready to begin playing once again.

Things Done Well 

  • Outfield Play: I didn’t have too many balls hit to me in left and right field, but when they were hit to me I was able to make a solid play and get the throw in accurately and quickly.
  • Aggressive approach: I was hunting fastballs early in the count, looking for a pitch I could drive. I also had a good two strike approach.

Things to Improve On

  • Movement during swing: My hands were moving too much, causing me get underneath the ball and pop up. The less movement I have in my swing the better off I will be. The more direct and short I am to the ball the better results I will get.
  • Bunting: There was no outs with a runner on 1st and 2nd, and I didn’t get the bunt down. I pulled back on two strikes and then struck out looking. Definitely a very bad at-bat. It’s simple. I need to bunt strikes and not balls, putting the ball down the line away from the pitcher.

I am looking forward to working on these things and improving every time I step on the ball field.

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