Playing at a higher level


Baseball has always been a large part of the lives of area youth in Jackson County.

Springs are spent preparing for the season with practices, summers with trips to the diamond for games and many families find time to catch a game at a ballpark to cheer on their favorite teams.

Two Seymour youth were able to add to that list of baseball activities this summer when they joined two high-profile 13-and-under travel teams.

Vince Wilson, son of Nic and Alisha Wilson, and Michael Wright, son of Mike and Stacy Wright, both made the cut on regional teams.

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Vince Wilson, a seventh-grader at Seymour Middle School, already traveled to Orlando, Florida earlier this month to join the USA Great Lakes Region team for a tournament.

Michael Wright, a fifth-grader at Immanuel Lutheran School, joined the USA Baseball Great Lakes Region over the weekend for a tournament in Cary, North Carolina for the National Team Identification Series. Wright’s team wrapped up a four-game tournament before returning Sunday.

Michael Wright said he was excited to join the team and get the opportunity to travel to North Carolina to see competition from across the United States. The tournament featured 16 different regions.

“I was really happy to make the team,” the 11-year-old said.

He was also the only player from Indiana on the team. The team was made up of players from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Michael Wright said he thought the tournament made him better because of the higher level of pitching the tournament featured.

“It was a good to go and it made me a lot better,” he said. “Playing against some of the best made me better.”

Michael Wright paid for the tryout himself by using his home run ball money. Each time he hits a home run, he receives $100.

“This was something he really wanted to do and he paid for the tryout himself,” Mike Wright said.

“(My favorite moment was) when I hit my double,” Michael Wright said. The whole tournament was a struggle to get hits, but Wright was able to ground one up the middle for a double.

“He had an 0-2 count and he ripped a nice double up the middle,” Mike Wright said.

Mike Wright said the moment was one that was neat to experience. He said his son led the team in hitting, going 3-9 with five runs batted in from the cleanup spot. He also led the team in on-base percentage.

“It was very good pitching down there,” Mike Wright said. “He’s normally at six or seven for nine, so at first we were disappointed, but saw that he actually led the team in hitting.”

Mike Wright said attending the tournament was enlightening.

“It was really eye opening to see other high-caliber players from other states,” Mike Wright said. “Just seeing the pitching and what’s out there is amazing.”

Mike Wright said he thinks his son was able to learn a lot in just the four games that were played.

“I think his hitting really improved because of the pitching he saw,” he said. “That’s the best he’s ever seen and I think he’s seen the best now and he’s seen what’s out there and can make those adjustments.”

By making the team, Michael Wright was also invited to tournaments later this fall and winter for tournaments in Florida and Arizona.

Vince Wilson, who played a variety of positions with catcher being his most regular, said the tournament was a great experience that transformed the way he thought about the sport.

“That whole week just gave me a different mindset about baseball,” Vince Wilson said. “It was a lot tougher and the tournament showed me not to be so negative in the batter’s box. The tournament made me better in a lot of ways like the batter’s box, the field and really my mind.”

The week-long tournament also gave him a chance to make new friends and memories with his teammates.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I got to meet a lot of new people and make a lot of new friends.”

Vince Wilson said the highlight of the week for him was when he ripped an inside pitch along the base line for a triple. That moment was a big one, he said, because of the energy it created in the dugout.

As a catcher, Vince Wilson prides himself on keeping runners from stealing the bases. He said the tournament did not feature many players willing to steal.

“All the catchers were pretty good, so no one really wanted to steal because they would get thrown out pretty quickly,” he said. “Unless you had a speed demon.”

The Wright family embarked on their journey earlier this week and Mike Wright said he was proud that his son was able to make the team and play at a higher level.

“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “Baseball is his love, and he does really well, and I’m just really proud of him.”

Finding out he made the team was an exciting event for the family. They were on the interstate to get cleats at a sporting goods store for the season when Mike Wright read the confirmation email.

“There were some high-fives,” he said with a laugh.

Nic Wilson said his family, too, was excited, but almost missed the opportunity to confirm that his son wanted to join the team.

Nic and Alisha Wilson were on a vacation in Jamaica when an email was sent to Nic. Nic was not really looking for the email and didn’t check it much while on vacation. He then received a call from a number he didn’t recognize and let it go to voicemail.

“It took a second for it to register that he actually made the team,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it and it was really cool. I was really proud of him.”

Nic Wilson said the competition was the best his son has faced over the course of the years.

“There are no weak teams and these were the hardest games he’s ever played,” he said. “You saw kids there that you don’t normally see here because they’re from California, Texas, Florida and I was talking to one parent where their kid had already played 100 games this year and that’s just something that was interesting to see there.”

Another interesting aspect for Nic Wilson was the fact the team was assembled without any of the players or coaches knowing each other.

“They’re all in the same boat where they don’t know each other, but have to go out there and play together,” he said. “But they all had something in common, the love for the game of baseball and they’re good at it.”

Nic Wilson said he is glad that his son was able to experience the tournament because he feels the sport of baseball prepares him for life.

“A lot of people think about just the game, but the game really prepares you to be a great, strong person,” he said. “If you do things right and work hard, you will get good results.”

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