by John Whittle
The weather is warming and summer is getting closer, so another year of Canes baseball is just around the corner. This year, we have a challenging schedule playing in the best events across the country and look to add to our total of eight Perfect Game national championships at the 17U level.
This summer on our Canes National team, we have 17 players who will see a considerable amount of time on the mound. There are 15 who are predominately pitchers and a couple of others who will make a big impact at the plate while also getting their chance on the bump.
Over the years, the Canes have put together a pitching staff that has featured power arms, but also guys who have plus command with the ability to mix pitches. This year is no different as a staff has been assembled that will challenge the opposition.
“We have guys who pitch off their fastballs,” head coach Jeff Petty said. “We command our fastballs and we’re not afraid to throw inside on guys. We’re going to have guys who command three pitches and throw a bunch of strikes. We always want to go after hitters, and that’s the kind of guys we have this year.”
Right-handed pitcher Ricky Williams from River Bluff High School in South Carolina is back with his second year with the Canes. A Clemson commitment, one of Williams’ favorite moments with the Canes was playing a game at Lake Pointe that went into the wee hours of the morning in a thick fog.
“I am looking forward to seeing my Canes teammates, most of which I haven’t seen since last summer,” Williams said. “Canes Baseball has prepared me to play against top level talent and helped me identify areas where I can become stronger, yet at the same time, help me identify my areas of strength.”
Right-handed pitcher Wyatt Hudepohl will put away the pads for the summer where he quarterbacks his St. Xavier High School (Ohio) football team to compete with us. A Kentucky commitment, Hudepohl says the way the Canes organization is known for preparing their players for college and professional baseball is what led him to join the team.
“The Canes program is obviously one of the top organizations in the country and I could not be happier to be a part of it,” Hudepohl said. “I’m also looking forward to playing some of the best competition and competing at a very high level. Before I have never gone to tournaments around the country and this is going to be a very cool experience.”
Right-handed pitcher Cannon Pickell is the longest-tenured member of Canes Baseball joining the organization when he was just 11 years old. The Currituck County High School (North Carolina) product, who is committed to the Tar Heels, and looks back on last year’s Wilson Premier Championship as the highlight moment with the program so far.
“I am most looking forward to playing with some of my best friends I made last year and meeting some more of the guys on the team this year. Also, I am excited to travel around the country and face the best competition,” Pickell said. “The competition we face every game is unlike any other and it pushes me to want to be better. It really opened my eyes to what kind of talent is really out there around the rest of the country.”
Right-handed pitcher Jason Savaacol, from C.W. Baker High School in New York, is in his first year with the team. A Maryland commitment, Savaacol says that playing for the Canes is something that he’s wanted to do his entire travel baseball career, and now he will get his chance.
“What made me want to join the Canes was the opportunity to play high level baseball with the best of the best,” Savaacol said. “As a player I always want to challenge myself to play against the best, play with the best, and be the best; and Canes Baseball gives me the opportunity to do all three. I really appreciate them reaching out to me this offseason and asking me to come play with them. This experience is going to make my last year of travel ball very special for me.”
One of our featured left-handed pitchers is Bryson Hammer, from Alexander Central High School in North Carolina. This will be his first year with the Canes as well, and when given the opportunity to join the national team, it was a “no doubter” decision for the Clemson commitment.
“I am looking forward to playing in the World Wood Bat with a team that has the talent to bring home the trophy,” Hammer said. “I’m looking forward to spending time getting to know all the guys as well as improving my skills.”
Right-handed pitcher Max Carlson is our player from the coldest part of the country joining us from Burnsville High School in Minnesota. Carlson, in his first year with the Canes, is a North Carolina commitment and says the tradition of the organization was one of the chief reasons he chose to join the team.
“I’m looking forward to playing with a new group of elite players. Especially meeting about half of the UNC commits on the team as well,” Carlson said. “I joined the Canes because of their tradition of having successful teams and getting the right exposure for their kids. It also was a great fit. The team works well together and I am looking forward to be a part of that.”
Left-handed pitcher Skylar Brown, a University of Louisville commitment, is a part of the organization for the first time this summer. A Marshall County High School product in Kentucky, Brown says that playing with the Canes is going to help him develop into a better player.
“I’m looking forward to having a great time with the guys and playing in front of many scouts against the best teams in the nation,” Brown said. “I joined the Canes because I feel they are the best organization out there to help me get to the highest level and they are coached by a great staff that I feel will push me to be the best I can be.”
Right-handed pitcher Gage Bradley is back for his second summer with Canes Baseball. A product of Rossview High School in Tennessee, Bradley is committed to play his college baseball at Vanderbilt University.
“What I’m looking forward to most is just being able to see my boys and going to win tournaments, Bradley said. “The best part about the Canes is all of the tournaments we have the opportunity to play in and being able to be around a great group of players and coaching staff.
Left-handed pitcher Thomas Vincent is in his first year with the Canes and is our only player on the National team from the Lone Star State. A Memorial High School product, Vincent is committed to play at Texas A&M.
“I am looking forward to developing my pitching, playing with some great players, facing good competition, and getting ready to play college baseball,” Vincent said. “I have always known the Canes to be a great program and my college coach recommended that I play for them this summer since I had the opportunity.”
Right-handed pitcher Jake Brooks is one of three California kids on the roster this year, and the only one on the mound. A Fountain Valley High School product who is committed to play his college baseball at UCLA, this will be Brooks’ second summer in organization.
“My most memorable experience with this team would have to be first meeting all of the guys from around the country. It is a great experience to play with the best of the best against the best competition,” Brooks said. “Canes Baseball has helped me become better as a player by playing in the best tournaments getting coached by the best coaches. I have never left a game without learning something new.”
Coby Ingle, a right-handed pitcher, is back for his second season with Canes Baseball. Winning the Wilson Premier championship last year is the top moment for the N.C. State commitment, who is from Rockingham County High School in North Carolina.
“Being a part of the Canes has made me compete and focus on every little detail,” Ingle said. “What I’m looking for to most this summer is just spending the summer with my best friends and competing against the best players in the country every week.”
Right-handed pitcher Travis Hamrick joined the Canes for the first time last fall, but this will be his first summer with us. A Watuga High School product committed to in-state school North Carolina, Hamrick says that winning last year’s Wilson Premier event is an experience he’ll never forget.
“Canes Baseball is a class act with a really good brand of baseball and a long history of success,” Hamrick said. “I’m looking forward to winning championships with the best team in the country and hanging out with my friends on the team because we all have a really good chemistry together. Canes Baseball also does a great job of getting me prepared to got to the next level of my baseball career.”
Right-handed pitcher Riley Eikoff from Patriot High School in Virginia is starting his second summer with the Canes program. The UVA commitment was part of the Wilson Premier championship-winning team last fall.
“I’m really looking forward to playing with such an elite group of players. Playing with these kids forces me to push my limits,” Eikoff said. “The Canes organization has a great coach staff and they are always will to help their players grow not just as a baseball player but as a man.”
Left-handed pitcher Luke Wagner from Red Land High School in Pennsylvania joins the organization for his first season. He is committed to Georgia.
“I am looking forward to creating new relationships with the coaches and the players,” Wagner said. “What made me switch to the Canes is the history the team has. I feel like they never have a bad team and lots of people respect the organization.”
Right-handed pitcher Tyler Olenchuk, in his first year with the Canes, is from Dutch Fork High School will feature on the mound for us as well. He is committed to Clemson.
“I’m looking forward to playing with the Canes,” Olenchuk said. “It’s a whole new experience for me with a bunch of different guys. I have heard so many great stories about the Canes and I can’t wait to see everything that’s in store for this summer.”
There are two position players who will see time on the mound as well. One of them is first baseman and outfielder Caden Grice from Riverside High School in South Carolina. The left-hander is committed to Clemson and this is his second year with the team.
“I am most looking forward to being surrounded by a talented group of guys and going out every day and competing,” Grice said. “Playing with the Canes has made me a better player all around because I’m surrounded with some of the best players in the country and the best coaching staff out there.”
Also helping out on the mound this summer is Quade Tomlin from Liberty Christian Academy in Virginia. The Liberty commitment will play a big role on the infield and in the batting order.