Two Smith-Cotton baseball players spent the past week in Oklahoma, representing Missouri in the 2015 Junior Sunbelt Series. The series in McAlester, Okla. brings together teams from all over the US and Canada for five days worth of baseball and the team representing Missouri included Gavin Jones and Baxter Mays, both of whom will be juniors at Smith-Cotton in the fall.
“I went to a tryout down in Springfield and I made the team,” Jones said. “We were playing with some of the best kids that are going to be seniors and juniors in Missouri.”
Mays and Jones were playing with several players who they have played against during the high school and American Legion seasons. One Team Missouri player, Luke Miller, was in the Rod’s Sports A’s lineup against Jones, Mays and the rest of the Sedalia Travelers on Thursday.
“It was weird,” Mays said. “Some of the guys that were enemies were on your team and you get to know them and they’re good guys It’s cool to play against them now.”
Team Missouri went 4-6 in Oklahoma, good for seventh place which Mays said he is proud of.
“All the games that we played, we competed in,” he said.
Jones said the competition was good all week as Missouri faced other rosters which included “a lot of people that will be going Division I in baseball.”
“It feels good to play against the competition and know I can play with it,” Jones said.
“What you really see is the pitching gets incredibly harder,” Mays said. “They’re up there throwing mid-90s and you’re used to here seeing mid-80s. It’s a big difference. Everybody out there is the stud of their own team.”
Mays said the team will likely be together for one more tournament in Chicago later this summer. Though he was slowed by an ankle injury during the tournament in Oklahoma, he still got into some games and came away with a pair of hits.
Both players see the trip to Oklahoma as a chance to improve.
“Every chance you get, you get better up there,” Mays said. “It’s really just a chance to get better at baseball and you learn a lot of new stuff and meet new people and make some great memories.”