679 V2 ch151
Friday morning, the table in the cafeteria was packed with excited faces. Everyone was comparing schedules and saw that no certain field was written. At first, one or two of the guys said that they had noticed earlier, but just thought it was forgotten. But after asking their coaches last night, it turned out that something else was planned.
Sure enough, Coach Leroy got on a platform near the end of breakfast. The cafeteria got quiet, eager to hear what was going on this morning.
"It's been a very successful week for everyone, and overall I'm proud of this batch of young men that came over to show off their skill set." Coach Leroy started. "I know I said there would be a prize for the team with the best record, but after some consideration and talking with the staff, we decided to reward everyone."
A murmur went through the crowd of players.
"All of you will be sent home with a goodie bag of sorts. We partnered with the school to send everyone home with a Stanford University shirt and lanyard." He continued. "It'll be put in a Stanford University drawstring bag. Our sponsors and partners have also provided a few gifts including discounted gear, sportswear, and food."
Wow. My eyes widened, impressed with their generosity. There were so many players here at camp. It couldn't have been easy to put it together.
"These bags will be handed out after lunch when we pass out your evaluations sheets. In the evaluation sheet, we include your original scores and suggested areas in need for improvement." Coach Leroy explained how the evaluations were graded and how it wouldn't include any of the improvements we've made this week. "Also, after lunch, while these are being passed out and parents are showing up to take you back, our staff will be available to answer any questions you might have. Whether it's in regards to recruiting or scouts or anything else under the baseball spectrum, they will do their best to answer these questions."
The players could no longer hold their excitement, drowning out Coach Leroy with their talking to one another. Coach Leroy gave everyone a minute to settle down and before continuing. "The coaches and scouts present all have access to your contact information. If they're interested, they'll either call or send something in the mail. However, don't panic if you receive nothing. It just means that they aren't the right fit for you. There are plenty of colleges in need of recruits. It's all about finding the right match. Continue to work hard and play hard."
"Now. As most of you have noticed, your schedule for this morning simply said scrimmage. What we're going to do this morning is rearrange the teams based on this week's performances." Coach Leroy motioned at a counselor and was handed a clipboard. "Playing at the stadium, team one will be the home team." He went through the lists without pause, but I didn't have to listen for very long. My name was under team one. And to make it better, so was Landon's.
Landon grinned at me and flashed me two thumbs up.
I relaxed almost immediately. I knew someone on the team this time. Although, it's too bad I don't get to play with Kenny anymore.
Team two would be the visiting team at the stadium and on it was Ansar and Adam. We were going to play against each other.
Coach Leroy carried on, placing everyone on a team and stating where they would play at. After announcing the last team, he looked up around the room. "I know some of you may be depressed by your team number, but don't let that get to you. This is an elite camp. Everyone here is the future of baseball. Now go out there and do your best." He stepped down.
"Team one." Landon grinned. He stood up and stood tall. "That has to be the best team. I'm with the best players." He looked at me. "Jake is living proof of that." He laughed.
Noah, who was placed on team five, rolled his eyes. "It just means you had a good week. Don't put yourself on the same level as Jake."
"I can't believe after all that talk yesterday, I'm facing Jake today." Adam sighed. "So thankful I'm not a pitcher."
Ansar stood up. "Jake is good, but there are also good pitchers at this camp. It might not be as one-sided as you think."
Cody laughed. "Looks like you're in game mode already. I wish I could skip my game to watch Jake play in person."
"Maybe if your game ends early." Noah shrugged. "I'll check after my game too. It depends."
"Yea." Dylan nodded. "Not every game is the same. One of us might get lucky and be able to watch."
With that, breakfast had come to a close and it was time to head to our games. Everyone split up, leaving me with Landon, Ansar, and Adam. Even though they were considered an acquaintances, I still kept my eyes open for Rhys or Zeke. One of them had to be a coach for my team this morning. Zeke wouldn't possibly leave me on my own.
"I can't get over this stadium." Landon sighed as we walked in through an open side gate. "This place is just too cool. I'm sure the club room is state of the art. I really can't wait for college."
"If you're only interested in stadiums then you should contact Creighton in Omaha." Ansar said. "They get to use the same stadium that's used for the College World Series. That has to be insane."
Landon nodded in agreement. "The stadiums in the south are also pretty good."
Adam looked to me. "Are you particular about where you play, Jake?"
I shrugged. Nothing really jumped out. I guess..."I like it here." I told them. After all, I've played in this stadium quite a few times now. I was accustomed to it.
Landon and I split from Adam and Ansar. We went to the home team dugout and they went to the visitors. Out of habit, I went to the end of the dugout to put down my bag.
Landon casually followed, greeting our temporary teammates. He sat down with his bag and got his cleats out.
I copied his actions and put on my own cleats as we waited for coaches. I kept my eyes open, looking for Zeke. I eventually saw him entering the field with a group of men. Some would be the coaches while the other half had to be the umpires.
Just as I stood up, getting ready for Zeke to enter the dugout, he changed directions and went with another man to the visitors dugout. I frowned. What's this?
"Good morning!" Coach Leroy greeted as he walked into our dugout with Chandler right beside him. "I will be the coach for team one. Hopefully you all know my name. If you don't, then you aren't very observant. I am Coach Leroy, the head coach of Stanford's baseball team, and the director of this camp."
The dugout gave him their undivided attention.
"Before we start with warmups, I have something to say about this team: Don't lose." Coach Leroy said. "This is team one. You all are the best performers of this year's camp. You are expected to win."
Some of the guys stood up straighter while others looked nervous. It was obvious which category I fell into.
"You have to relish in the pressure of being the favorites. Everyone will get a chance to play in this game. Whether it's for just one pitch or for the entire game, that will be based on your performances." He told everyone. "Pitchers and catchers will head for the bullpen after warmup. Chandler will lead the group in the outfield for warmup and game preparation."
Chandler stepped up. "I'm Chandler. A player under Coach Leroy." He headed for the exit of the dugout. "Let's warmup mindfully." He left.
Players hurried to follow him.
Landon gave me a nudge. "Let's move. Come on. What are you looking at?"
My eyes were on the other dugout, watching Zeke with another coach doing a similar introduction.
"Go ahead, I have something to say to Jake." Unexpectedly Coach Leroy kept me back for a private chat.
Landon wasn't bothered and left with the rest of the team.
"Zeke said you might be distraught or at least, distracted by him being in the other dugout." Coach Leroy said, following my gaze to the other dugout. "Are you going to be able to play for me? Or do you want to switch to the other team?" He asked.
My eyes widened as I looked at him. "I can pick?"
He gave a short nod. "Zeke has explained some of your circumstances. I won't force you to be here, but Zeke said I could remind you that he was still within your sight. You can see him and he can see you. If anything goes wrong, he will be here in a blink." He gave a small smile. "But, I'm also here. No unsavory situations could happen before me. If I see anyone with unsportsmanlike conduct, I'll send them off immediately. Ultimately, this is my stadium and I won't tolerate that kind of attitude."