The 8th annual Florida League High School Invitational offers some of the best high school baseball matchups in the entire country. This year will mark the first time that the FHSI has extended into three separate weeks: March 16-20, March 23-27 and March 30-April 2. With 42 total teams competing over three weeks, this will set the record for largest FHSI in its eight year history.
Today, we will take a look at the third week of the tournament, known as “The Challenge”. Week 3 will be a 10-team pool play style tournament that guarantees four games for each school. This year’s pool of teams features historic programs, future first round draft picks, more than a dozen future D-1 players and two teams from Colorado, Virginia and Florida.
The Eustis Panthers return to the FHSI for the third time, headlined by senior RHP Brady Singer. Perfect Game has Singer ranked as one of the top 25 pitchers in the country. If doesn’t sign after being drafted, he will be heading to Gainesville to play for Florida in the fall. Teammates Michael Koenig (USF) and Michael Largey (UCF) will also help Eustis vie for the championship. The First Academy, who finished 24-5 last year, and ranked in the national Top 10 will make their FHSI debut. Forest High School has a future Gator of their own in junior Kirby McMullen. Traveling from Aurora, CO are the Grandview Wolves who routinely compete for state titles. Montverde will play in the FHSi for the second consecutive week, and will look to continue their impressive season. Westfield High from Chantilly, VA brings a talented roster with multiple college commitments.
The Challenge will begin play at Sanford Memorial Stadium at 9 am on Monday, March 30th . For a full schedule of the week, please click here.
We welcome the Clewiston Tigers to their first FHSI tournament. The South Florida team has
enjoyed recent success under head coach Terry Crawford, with back to back regional playoff
appearances. According to Coach Crawford, “This team has very good defensive skills and can hit with power through the first seven spots in the line-up. We have great speed on the paths, and we’re not afraid to play small ball if we need to. Pitchers to watch are Dakota Jackman and Trevor Pruitt, while Jude Moss is developing quickly.”
Head Coach David Lee brings his Eustis Panthers back for the third time to the FHSI. He brings a talented, veteran team that will look to compete for the tournament championship. Senior RHP Brady Singer is the ace of the staff. The Florida commit stands 6’5, and is a Top 25 pitcher in the country. He is joined by Tyler Parry and young lefty Michael Largey to form a strong pitching staff. On offense, Michael Koenig, Kerry Carpenter and Matt Lusignan are all threats to put up impressive numbers.
Scott Grove and the TFA Royals will make their FHSI debut in 2015. The Orlando private school enjoyed incredible success last year, finishing in the Top 10 nationally, and featuring 1st round draft pick Foster Griffin and All-American Adam Haseley. The 2015 version will chase a 3A state title with a veteran lineup. The middle infield combo of Chadwick Word and Peyton Hopkins will lead the way on defense and offense, while the pitching staff is anchored by Collin Dorroh and Jason Helgeson.
Forest is still considered a young team with only 4 seniors but will be led by an experienced junior class. On the mound, University of Florida commit, Kirby McMullen and younger brother Hunter McMullen look to handle much of the starting duties. Tommy Scott, Dylan Ristow, and Jacob Landry will anchor an experienced bullpen along with left-handed newcomer Zander Reed. This year’s line-up includes returning starters Kirby McMullen,
Hagen Samson, Phillip Felicien and David Stromwall, who was second on the team in RBI a year ago. Newcomers Andrew Eyster and Zach Smallridge will add power and speed to an experienced starting 9.
The Grandview Wolves will travel from Aurora, CO to take part in their 2nd FHSI tournament (2011). Long time head Coach Dean Adams is excited for his 2015 team, and expects them to compete at a high level. Says Adams: “After the summer that we had and the number of returning guys we are very excited about this upcoming season. We just need our pitching, which isn’t very experienced to come through, and I think we could be in contention for
a district championship, and hopefully a state championship as well.”
New head coach Rich Billings will lead the Leesburg Yellow Jackets to the FHSI for the second time in school history. From Coach Billings: “The Yellow Jackets are loaded with talented seniors this year. Our starting pitching should be an area of strength as well as the middle of our lineup. We have a veteran infield and are good behind the plate. We are looking forward to a great year.” Leesburg made it to the regional finals last year, and are led by seniors Jason Baita, Garrett Vathroder and Tucker Smith.
Lincoln Park Academy
The Lincoln Park Academy Greyhounds will play in their first FHSI this year. Head coach Matt Walters brings in a group who has enjoyed five consecutive district titles. From the coach: “With 5 players having multiple years of varsity experience and 5 consecutive district championships, our expectations have never been higher. We have beefed up our schedule to prepare for the possible longest post-season run in school history.” The team has a good
pitching staff, led by Jeff Gerlica, Ryan Boltersdorf and Drew Apugliese.
The Montverde Academy Eagles return for the 5th time to the FHSI. Since their debut at the tournament in 2011 with MLB prospect Francisco Lindor, the Eagles have fielded some great teams. Head Coach Tim Layden has high hopes for his 2015 squad, led by the senior core of Gabriel Garcia, Bryan Scheker, Julian Quintana and Leo Rodriguez. In addition to the seniors, look for Ryan Williams and Josh Reynolds ot perform on the mound. Behind them in the field, MVA continues its trend of high caliber infielders. Shortstop Cash Case and the tandem
of Ryan Williams and Julian Quintana will defend the middle of the diamond a look to sit atop the lineup this spring.
South Fort Myers
The Wolfpack from South Fort Myers are playing in their first FHSI. Head Coach Mike Jarman
is in his first year as skipper with the team, but he has high hopes for the senior laden team: “Although we are a senior loaded team, we are inexperienced at a number of positions. Still, our pitching has been exceptional, led by LHP Daniel Hourigan. We are very athletic team, and we feel we can make a strong run in the playoffs.”
Westfield is one of two out of state teams to join us for the 2015 FHSI Challenge. The team enters the tournament having played just a few games due to weather up north. However, Head Coach Rob Hahne is confident that his team will be ready to compete. The Bulldogs have three seniors lineup to play college baseball. Michael Scruggs leads the way as one of the top RHPs in the state of Virginia. He is joined by Greg Duncan, Kenny Barry and Brady Ingham to form a solid staff. On offense, the team is led by SS Mason Scoville and C Tyler Murray.