CNHI News Services
It was a tough week on the diamond for Team Colorado at the Heartland Classic. It racked up a 1-6 record and was beaten 16-3 in the first round of the playoffs Friday. Part of that lack of success stemmed from the team being without five players due to wild fires in the state. Four of their top players lost their homes in the fires.
However, one of the bright spots to come out of the week was second baseman Brett Wallace. The Chapparral High graduate came to the tournament without an offer to play college baseball. But after batting .400 and stealing eight bases, Northeastern Oklahoma has shown interest in making him part of their program, according to Colorado coach Scott Hormann.
“That’s what it’s all about for me,” Hormann said. “This is by far the best baseball experience I’ve had as a coach or player, other than going to the Connie Mack World Series.”
Social following: With six of the seven teams competing in the Heartland Classic coming from outside Oklahoma, a majority of the players’ parents were unable to be at the tournament. But that didn’t keep some of them from following each game intently.
For the parents of Alpharetta High’s Evan Troutt, social media has been a useful tool. Jake Troutt was a constant visitor on Twitter during Team Georgia’s game. He often responded to any tweet that mentioned his son.
“I think that’s awesome,” Evan Troutt said. “My dad comes to almost every game. I think it’s great that he’s able to get updates on everything.”
Dead week: Team Arkansas finished its run through the 2013 Heartland Classic Friday when it lost to Team Oklahoma 3-2 in the first round of the playoffs. Arkansas went 0-7 over its four day stay.
Some of the team’s problem had to do with just not having the same talent level as the other teams competing. But it also has to do with certain rules for high school in the state.
“The second and third week of June every year is the two-week dead period in Arkansas where no paid coach can have any contact with any athlete,” Arkansas coach Jason Hannaford said. “No phones, text. No nothing. That kind of has some affect on those guys being able to come up here.”
Hannaford said he hopes that will change next year with the addition of coach Doug Clark and Tom Pagnozzi.
“They both agreed to help me next year in getting those top players out here and come out here and help,” Hannaford said. “Also we’re going to go into the coaches association meeting in January and we’re going to lay it all out for them so they understand what chance we have for Arkansas to come out here and compete and have a good tournament. I think if we can get them to allow conversations during this week, I can’t imagine they wouldn’t allow something like that.”
Stepping down: Tournament director Jim Dickerson is saying good-bye to the Sunbelt/Heartland Classic Tournament. The baseball lifer said it’s time for him to step down
Today will be Dickinson’s last day as director, but his legacy at the tournament will not be forgotten by the players or coaches.
“It’s always a great experience coming out here,” Georgia coach Todd Eubanks said. “Jim Dickerson and Sherri Rogers do a great job of putting this tournament on. For the kids, it’s just a great opportunity. They get treated very well. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing that these kids will get to talk about for the rest of their lives.”