Valdosta Daily Times

July 30, 2013

Boys earn shot in All-State Showcase

Staff Reports
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Last weekend three players from a local little league team, the Leather Busters, headed north to McDonough, Ga. to tryout for the USSSA 9U AA Team Georgia All-State Team.

Joel Michael (Jam) Presley, Wayne Lockhart and Luke Petti, are among the thirty nominated players from all over the state that made the trek for their chance at spot on the 13 man Georgia All-State roster.

Players from over 90 9U AA teams in Georgia were eligible for the nominations, equating to over 1,000 players vying for the 13 coveted spots on the All-State roster.

The showcase began at 9 in the morning in McDonough’s Heritage Park Complex, and the Leather Busters wasted no time raising eyebrows among the evaluators.

After a two hour combine style, skills evaluation, the players were split into three teams for an afternoon of exhibition games. Fans were able to witness players from Cobb County, Peachtree City, Columbus and all the other Georgia baseball powerhouse cities joining forces on the same field for an afternoon of great baseball.

Petti was the first Leather Buster to garner scouts' attention.

Petti went a perfect 3-3 at the plate during the exhibition games with three solid hits to the outfield; his defensive skills also took center stage with several great plays in the outfield, including one fantastic on-the-run catch while calling off a hard-charging shortstop.

Petti locked down the outfield making defensive plays at all three outfield positions during the exhibition games.

Lockhart was flawless at first base, racking up several assists, snags, and picks throughout his two exhibition games. Lockhart’s bat was on fire, knocking two balls into the outfield in three at-bats.

Lockhart didn’t stop there. He took the mound and proceeded to dominate the offensively stacked opposition.

Lockhart’s velocity and command on the hill were both on-point from his first pitch until his last.

While many players at the tryout were one (or two) position players, Presley showed his value by being a versatile and effective player at multiple positions, including second base, shortstop, pitcher and catcher.

Along with going 2-3 on the day, Lockhart and Presley linked up for a 5-3-2 double play with Presley, behind the plate, receiving a bullet throw from Lockhart, at first base, and making a great tag during a collision at home plate. Presley held on to the ball to seal the double play.

Presley also made a diving tag at second base, after a slightly off line throw from a center fielder, sending a very surprised base runner back to the dugout.

As the tryouts concluded Saturday evening, the Leather Buster players made the long trek back to South Georgia, eagerly awaiting the call that would arrive Sunday, before 5 pm.

As it would turn out, all three Leather Busters received great news on Sunday.

All three Leather Busters have earned a spot on the 13 man 9U AA USSSA Team Georgia All-State Team.

In addition to the players receiving great news, Coach Rusty was also selected as an Assistant Coach on the All-State Team.