The schedule may tell a different tale, but the JV baseball Fighting Scots’ summer season didn’t end two short weeks ago.
While the statistics compiled from the Central Carolina Scholastic Summer League have been filed away, eight of Scotland’s top rising JV players have continued their pursuit of getting better in the off-season. They are members of the 15U Norman Showcase Academy (NSA) travel baseball team, a team that will be entering the bulk of a schedule that will last through October of this year.
In addition to the eight Fighting Scots on the roster, six others are also members of the Fayetteville-based team, including future Richmond varsity players Cody Leviner and Ethan Baucom. Others include the Lumberton Pirates’ Ryan Mayers and future Terry Sanford varsity starter Sam Zahren.
And while they may be rivals once spring training begins, county allegiances have been set aside for the greater good of the team. Temporarily of course.
“It’s a unique situation, because you want to see a potential rival player of yours be successful out there,” said NSA head coach Michael House, father of JV Scots’ powerhouse pitcher Logan. During the CCSSL season, House pitched 12 innings for the JV Fighting Scots, tying teammate Matt Caviness (who is also a member of the NSA travel team) for the team-lead in strikeouts with 11 while also compiling a 0.58 ERA.
“Ultimately, you want what’s best for your team, so an opportunity like this opens new doors for these players to become not just better players but better teammates as well,” House said.
The NSA squad will be traveling to the University of North Carolina-Wilmington this weekend to take part in the “Coastal Athletics Beach Classic” showcase event. As JV head coach Michael Sellers did this past summer, House will rely on the stout pitching of son Logan, Caviness, and Cody Stewart, the latter of which House will use in a closer-type role. The arms of Zahren and Cheraw, S.C.’s Jordan Melton will also be relied upon.
As of August 1st, the NSA travel ball team are considered a 16U team. But this weekend, the squad will be playing a level up from their normal competition as they prepare to face true 16 year-olds.
Two Fighting Scots won’t be making the trip this weekend however: Cross Holfert and Ben Utter are currently vying for starting slots on Scotland’s JV and varsity football teams. Holfert is looking to be the potential starting QB for the JV unit, while Utter will be kicking for the varsity Fighting Scots.
“We have athletes on our team, without a doubt,” said House, who was personally chosen by NSA-founder Norman Starsky to coach the team. “Combine that with the fact that most of these kids have been playing together as a team since 10 years old and I think we can hang with anybody out there.”
When describing his team’s ability to “hang with anybody,” House points to three separate instances where the NSA players proved that they are right on the cusp of being an elite team. Their first tournament of the year took place in early June, where the team lost a closely fought 9-8 game against the eventual tournament champion Cubs Showcase 15U travel ball team out of North Carolina. A few short weeks later, the same NSA squad played a best-of-three series with South Carolina’s premiere showcase team, the Diamond Devils from Lexington. The NSA team beat them in consecutive games by the score of 10-4 and 8-1.
And most recently, Houses’ team squared off against the Evoshield Canes, one of the top showcase baseball programs in the country, a game which they lost 5-6.
All three of the aforementioned opponents are considered top-class showcase organizations. And all three were either beaten or taken to the breaking point by the members of the 15U Norman Showcase Academy travel ball squad.
“Those organizations can charge thousands to enroll a player, when all we ask is for you to buy your jersey and pay some small fees,” House said. “This team was built to give players with the talent to become great an opportunity to show what they’ve got. We aren’t watered down in any sense and we’ve proven that our talent can run with the best.”
The 15U Norman Showcase Acadent travel baseball team:
Terry Sanford (Fayetteville)