CARTERSVILLE, Ga. - One would think a group of guys who have never played together before would struggle with playing as a team. This is not the case for the Evoshield Canes 16u, which put in a team effort to beat the East Coast Titans on Sunday at the Perfect Game WWBA 16u National Championship.
“They came from all over but they’ve really mixed well. They’ve become a team and a family which is important to us,” explained head coach Greg Conner.
With players from all over the east coast, the Canes have put together a team of talented division one commits. Two of their most standout players are shortstop Grant Bodison from South Carolina, and outfielder Jalen Harrison from Virginia.
“We’re starting to come together to play as a team,” said Bodison, “I love the coaches [and] I love the way they get us to play together.”
“The first game was a little rough patch. It was our first game actually being together as a whole,” explained Harrison. “But we’re going to bounce back the rest of the tournament and hopefully win our pool. Our team is coming together and meshing very well.”
The Canes are now 3-1, and have high hopes for the remainder of the tournament.
“Our goal when we go to Perfect Game events is to have a chance to win it. These are big events on our calendar and we come down with the goal of competing and hopefully being in the mix,” said Conner.
With Bodison’s speed in the field, and consistency at the plate, and Harrison’s power, the Canes have little to worry about. Bodison went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI and Harrison went 2-for-4 with a clutch triple in Sunday’s game against the Titans.
“I’m starting to figure out my swing and I’m just trying to put balls in play and help my team win,” said Bodison.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound sophomore is ranked the No. 1 shortstop in South Carolina and has made a verbal commitment to play at the University of South Carolina when he graduates in 2016.
“It was my dream school,” said Bodison about his commitment to USC. “Once I went and visited [and] went to a football game I loved the environment.”
Like all other baseball players, he has aspirations of one day making it to the big leagues to play for the New York Yankees.
“Getting drafted out of high school is my dream, but I still want to go to college,” Bodison explained.
His teammate, Harrison, who is ranked the No. 3 outfielder in Virginia, is committed to play at the University of Virginia when he graduates in 2016.
“It was a really easy commitment,” explained Harrison. “My high school is right across the street and the coaches are one of the best in the country. They really take care of their players and they really love them.”
Harrison said his main goal for the next two seasons is to just have fun, since he already knows where he is going to school.
“I want to show [my coaches] that I’m gaining experience and getting better each day,” stated Harrison.
Conner is very pleased to have both Bodison and Harrison playing for him this summer.
“Jalen has great wheels, bats in the middle of the line-up for us, hits the ball with power [and] is a gap kind of hitter,” said Conner. “He’s got a lot of potential. Grant is probably the best shortstop I’ve ever coached. He’s amazing, the range he has and the balls he goes and gets. Both will be quality college players.”
The Canes are a roster filled with college commitments. Along with Bodison, Logan Allen (2015), Brad Debo (2016), and Rian Haire (2016) are all committed to play at South Carolina. Sawyer Bridges (2016), and Ryne Huggins (2016) are committed to Clemson. Reid Schaller (2016) and Stephen Scott (2015) are committed to play at Vanderbilt. Other college committed players graduating in 2016 include Zachary Hess (Virginia Tech), Casey Kempner (Heartland CC), Joshua Lowe (Florida State), Edward “EP” Reese (North Carolina State) and Bryse Wilson (North Carolina).