It’s been quite a busy week for several Ole Miss verbal commitments and one high-ranked recruit.
This past week commitments Gavin Cecchini and Stryker Trahan, and big-time pitcher Ty Hensley, took part in the Tournament of Stars baseball tournament, held at Thomas Brooks Park, Team USA’s training complex in Cary, N.C.
On Sunday, following the eight-team tournament’s championship game, it was announced that both Cecchini and Hensley had made the first round of cuts for the Under-18 Team USA squad, while Trahan was named an alternate.
“It would mean everything. It’s always been a dream of mine — always been a dream of mine since I was a little kid,” said Cecchini, who hit .437 with nine RBIs, one home run, one double, one triple three runs scored and one stolen base while playing second, third, shortstop and left field for team “Dixie.”
Like Ceccini, Hensley stood out on the diamond.
Playing for the National Amateur Baseball Federation team, Hensley posted a 2-0 record, scattering three earned runs on five hit and two walks in six innings on the mound.
He also struck out six and walked two. As a first baseman Hensley was 0-for-7 with two strikeouts.
“It was a blast, getting to play the best competition from around the country,” he said. “There’s nothing better than competing your talents versus the best out there. It was a great time, got to meet a lot of cool people. They did a great job putting on a great tournament.”
Should Hensley make the final round of cuts, it wouldn’t necessarily be a life-long dream come true because he just found out about the tournament in May, but it’d be pretty close.
Making Team USA may even have more sentimental value than being drafted or playing collegiately for the 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander.
“I think it’s the fact that you’re playing for your country,” he said. “That’s the cool part, you feel like you can be playing for everybody out there and have a reason to be playing.”
Being a veteran of various showcases and workouts, Hensley said he has come across most of the other prospects involved in the Tournament of Stars at one point or another.
“To be honest, I’ve pretty much seen everybody,” he said. “You know everybody just from going around and playing. I’d say it’s probably not the first time I’ve seen all these faces.”
Despite being one of the top pitching recruits in the country, the Edmond, Okla., native isn’t taking anything for granted.
“I’d like to think (my chances of making Team USA) are pretty good, but nothing is ever given to you,” he said. “You have to go earn it.”
Recently Texas, Stanford and LSU joined Ole Miss, Arkansas and Arizona State as the leaders for Hensley’s services.
Originally, when Ole Miss, Arkansas and Arizona State were the front runners, Hensley had planned on making a decision by July 1.
Now that three new schools have popped into the picture, he said he doesn’t expect to make a decision until around late July or early August.
“It won’t happen by July 1, I can tell you that,” he said. “I get home on July 22 and then I’m home for 10 days and in those 10 days I want to get a good idea of where I’m going.”
Having constantly been on the go has hindered Hensley’s ability to make a decision.
“I just don’t think I’ve had a whole lot of time to think about it,” he said. “I’ve always been on the go for several months.”
Hensley wanted to make it clear that he hasn’t been seeking out more schools, but just the opposite.
“There’s been a few other schools showing interest and a few other things I may want to look into,” he said. “In the end I just want to make the best decision that’s right for me. I’m trying to explore any new options or look for anything else, but it just happened that way.”
Standout junior college left-hander Dylan Chavez said he expects to be in Oxford in August during a recent exchange of text messages.
Asked if there was any progress with the Minnesota Twins, who drafted him in the 32nd round of this year’s MLB Draft, Chavez replied, “Nope. Nothin really goin on there.”
He added that instead of attending summer school, “it looks like” he’ll instead be in Oxford in time for the fall semester.
Chavez is currently playing summer ball for the Sacramento (Calif.) Scorch. (June 27, 2011, Page 6)