On the job training! Travel Ball is serious business for local baseballers

For most teenage boys summer time is a time of mostly fun and relaxation. Some may get a job to have some spending money, especially the older ones, but for the most part the time off from school is spent swimming, fishing, playing videos and if they lenjoy the sport. playing in a summer baseball league. To them it is just a fun way to spend time.

Then there is those that for them baseball is serious business. It is deeply rooted in their blood and fiber. They wake up, eat and sleep thinking about it. It is more than a game. It is their love. It totally governs their lifestyle and the time spent practicing is looked at as a job and obligation. 

There are five local baseball players that fit that description. Five who have decided to make a total comittment to their love and is willing to sacrifice the normal fun of summer that most guys their age enjoy. These are the one playing for an elite travel baseball team. 

To compete on such a level is not done on just a whim. It is a decision that is made by the whole family as there is tremendous costs and extensive travel involved. Virtually every minute of what would be free time for the athlete and family is consumed by the demands of what playing travel ball entails. 

It is not for everybody. In reality, only the best or at least those who are striving to be the best should even consider such an endeavor. Everyone on the team is talented and the competition for playing time is fierce. The “travel ball” experience is right for these five though as each has the talent required and the teams they are playing on is perfect for their individual situations.

Representing Empire Black, based in Shreveport and coached by former major leaguer Todd Self, is Ty Simonelli, Luke Morgan and Blake Carter. Each played key roles in Quitman High advancing to the Class B state semifinals this spring. Like several on the Empire team, Simonelli and Luke Morgan, has signed to play in college and is using this time to hone their skills for the next level. For Carter, who came out of nowhere to be instrumental in leading Quitman to the Class B semifinals, the hope is that this summer’s experience will put him in the same position next year as his former teammates are in now. 

Recent Weston High School graduate Kaden Shirley plays for Extreme 18U of the United Baseball Organization, which is a nationally recognized college preparatory & development Program.  Shirley has been in contact with several colleges but is still undecided as to where he wants to play. The coaches and league officials will be of tremendous help to him in opening up even more doors and through sound advice.

Then there is Colton Blundell, who is just now beginning his high school career at Weston High. Blundell’s drive to be the best he can be was recognized by his parents at a young age. Their unselfish dedication and investiment in their son has allowed Blundell to already play on more elite travel ball teams than all of the above. The move to play on the LA Havok 14U this summer, which is comprised of the best players of that age in northeast Louisiana, is a major step up.

This past week Empire Black, shown in the banner above, won the tournament played at Bossier Parish Community College while the Extreme 19U squad, shown below, won the Hinds Community College in Mississippi competition. LA Havok 14U came in second in their tourney in Crossett, AR. and all five played important roles in their teams success. 

Local fans have a great opportunity to see Empire and Extreme 18U compete this coming weekend at the Northwestern State University Showcase in Natchitoches. 

Extreme 19U

LA Havok 14U


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