After a very successful FHSI Classic last week, we are welcoming six more high school teams to compete in the 2021 Showcase. The Showcase will run all week from March 22-26.
Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium is the primary location of the event. In the 1950s, the stadium was the spring training facility for the New York Giants and where past legends such as Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays showed off their skills. Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, Carson Fulmer, Brendan Rodgers, and Greg Bird, some of the best players in professional baseball, have all at one time played in the FHSI.
Let's take a look at the six teams participating in the Showcase this year.
Rockledge High School
The Rockledge Raiders will join the FHSI for the first time under the direction of Coach Greg Clayborne, who has 588 victories in 29 years. The Raiders are senior heavy with seven commitments or offers having already been made for the college level including Karl Hartman at the University of Florida and Julian Balzer at University of Central Florida. Being top heavy in pitching with five of the seven seniors being pitchers, they have a plethora of options on the mound to keep teams off balance. Key areas in the offense may be young but as they continue through the season, their consistency and confidence will build to be able to compete with anyone.
Coach Cheron Farley may be young in his head coaching years but he’s already helped bring two conference championships to the Eagles and he’s looking to do more this season. The team is led by two seniors, Caldwell College commit Derek Farley, and Belmont Abbey College commit Gavin Fragale, who bring varsity experience and will push the underclassmen to compete hard every game. The middle infield will be anchored by junior Nico Nito with his defensive skills. Coach Farley is excited to see how the team’s work in the off season pays off on the field.
This will be University- Orange City’s sixth time playing in the FHSI. The Titans have a large junior class at it’s exposal who spread all over the field, with Evan Koehler, Nolan Thompson and Todd Kniebbe filling up the zone on the rubber. Coach Jake Norman expects his team to compete for a district title and make a deep playoff run. After being 2018 FHSI Champions and 2019 FHSI Runner Ups, look for the Titans to continue to be a menace on the field and make another run this tournament.
The Spruce Creek Hawks are loaded with nine college commitments for their senior class. The Hawk’s have a very deep pitching staff anchored by five committed pitchers including Brandon Neely to Florida, Preston Wetheral to Florida State, Lucas Mahlstedt to Wofford College, Jerrett Maresco to St. Johns River, and Brooks Byers to Wallace Dothan. The pitching is backed up by solid defense up the middle which includes Florida International University commit Dalton Hurst at second base and Stetson commit Evan Mastromauro at shortstop. The college commits don’t stop there though as in the outfield, they have UMass commit Chase Dunlap and Florida commit Corey Robinson. Coach Cleveland says as long as his team consistently swings the bat well on offense and can stay healthy, there is a very good chance for the Hawks to make a deep run in the State tournament.
Coach Malphurs and the Gainesville Hurricanes are playing in the FHSI for the third time this year. His team was a regional quarterfinalist in 2019 and although they are young this year with only one senior, they have a bright future ahead of them. Coach Malphurs says they play the same baseball that they have in past years which is aggressive on offense and efficient on defense. The Hurricanes like to put pressure on defenses with their aggressive offensive schemes.
Coach Ralph Henriquez is coming into this tournament with 334 career wins and three state championships under his belt in the 17 years he has been coaching. The 2021 team is led by seven seniors which include a pair of Indian River State College commits, Michael Alfonso and Landon Lowe, and Polk State College commit Logan Pellicier, along with Daniel Varela, Jaden Burchfield, Tom Besson and Andris Barroso. These seniors look to lead and progress with this team during this season as they plan to reinstate their title as district champs. Also be on the lookout for Preston Herce, Jack Haggard and Kai Smith in the batter’s box with clutch hits.