US Elite Will Build on the Success of the 2016 Season

According to US Elite Director, Mark Helsel, the 2016 season was the best year ever for his 10 year old organization. “I hesitate to call it the best year ever because we’ve had so many good years, and have had so many great people come through our program. But, the things we accomplished in 2016 raised the bar even higher. It was an amazing year”.

In June, Coach Jason Ferber’s team won the coveted USA Baseball National team championships in Jupiter, FL. Read Story HERE on USA Baseball website. “When I think back to that event, I don’t just think about the end result, I think about the journey we took to win it, said Ferber. “We overcame a lot of adversity and beat several of the top teams in the country to win the Gold.  To me, that was the most impressive part”. USA Baseball thought so, too, and even wrote a feature article on it. See HERE.

Another milestone in 2016 was the incredible run Coach Matt LaNeve’s team made at the Perfect Game 16U World Series. The PGWS is a strict invite only event for the top 20 teams in the country. Just getting invited to the event is an accomplishment. But, LaNeve’s 2018’s were not satisfied on just being there. They proceeded to go undefeated in pool play (5-0) and finish 3rd in the country. LaNeve was thrilled with his team’s performance, but not surprised, “This team is special. They have won at the highest levels in the country since they were 13U. They beat some of the top teams in the country at the PGWS and proved they belong in the elite of the elite”. For their accomplishments, Perfect Game ranks them the 13th best team in the country.

Helsel also added that the success of the younger teams in the organization was also impressive. “We don’t measure the success of our program by wins and losses. However, we are teaching our players that learning how to compete and win win is important”. Since forming in the fall of 2015 the 13U team (Coached by Helsel) has compiled a record of 108-7. Last summer they won the Perfect Game 13U Super Qualifier and earned an automatic birth to the National Championship in FL against the other top 13U teams in the country. “We put together a schedule for 2017 that will really challenge them. We have pretty high expectations for that team”.

Helsel said that another byproduct of such a successful 2016 season has been getting invited to so many of the top national events for the 2017 season. “There is a trend taking place in travel baseball. A growing number of elite, invite only events are popping up because many of the top programs are looking to play against the other top programs. We have been invited to nearly all of what I would call the truly elite level events. The Perfect Game World Series is a good example. We have a team in every age group going to that event”. Helsel said he is very excited about a new event next summer that sounds incredible, Program 15 and the Future Stars series invited us their International World Series in Houston, TX. From everything I’ve heard so far, this is going to be big time. All 30 MLB clubs will have scouts at this event. We’re sending our 2018/Team Majestic team to this event”. Helsel says another invite only event at Duke University will test Coach Ferber’s 2019’s. Dynamic Baseball is doing some great, invite only events. They organized an 8 team event at Duke in June and invited us. Our 2019’s will play some of the top 2019 teams in the country at this event. That event will be a “scoutfest”, for sure”.

What sticks out most to Helsel about the 2016 season, however, is something you don’t hear alot about in travel baseball; player development. “We had 21 players commit to D1 schools in 2016. We’ve had higher numbers than that in the past, but many of the players who committed in 2016 have grown up in our program. I think about players like, Logan Mathieu (Liberty University),  Bryce Hensor (Morehead State), Brandon Miller (St. Johns), Will Lozinak, (Morehead State) and Trevor Backman (Marist). These are kids who had a dream to play D1 baseball and are now getting that opportunity. They had a plan in our program, and they executed the plan. When you boil all of this down to it’s simplest form, it always come down to one thing; making a difference in the lives of these young men. We never want to lose sight of that”.

If the trend from 2016 continues there will be a lot more lives impacted for many years to come at US Elite Baseball.