Lots of miles, little stress for local travel ball players

ON THE MOVE:  Airline’s Tyler Ferguson (left) and Byrd’s Kevin Robinson have stayed busy this summer with travel baseball.

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

They play on a variety of teams in a variety of places, but there is one thing that most local travel ball participants can agree on when it comes to comparing it to their high school season.

“Travel ball is more relaxed,” says Byrd’s Kevin Robinson. “You are working on yourself more than anything else. In high school you are trying to get a win for your team.”

“In travel baseball, it’s just a lot of fun,” says Airline’s Mason Morgan. “You’re playing free with no emotions and you’re with your friends playing the game you love. There’s nothing better. High school baseball is so much more focused and much more competitive because there is so much pride for your school.”

“Travel ball is a lot looser and brings back the fun,” says Airline teammate Tyler Ferguson. “High school ball is more important. If you don’t win a summer ball game, you just go to the next weekend. In high school, you only have one season. It’s not as much of a grind as school ball, but I love it.”

Ferguson is part of Team Louisiana and plays for Chad Abernathy. Even though he had played for Abernathy in the past, he still had to try out for the team that consists of players from all over the state.

Ferguson has played in a tournament almost every weekend since school ended in locations all around the South, including a tournament in Atlanta that featured about 400 teams.

“I just want to be seen by as many (college) coaches as I can and get offers to play at the next level,” he says. “I think I get better during the high school season because I’m practicing every day. Summer is when I use what I have learned in practice all year to show what I can do.”

He plays both outfield and pitcher and has been playing travel ball since he was in middle school. “Whenever I was little, it was more of a game to have fun,” Ferguson says. “But going into my senior season, I need to be as ready as I can be.”

Playing baseball weekend after weekend can get tough, but Morgan says it’s worth it. It may be more relaxed, but that doesn’t mean it’s not competitive.

“It is a huge grind because if you want to be great you have to work,” he says. “Everyone is getting better and if you aren’t then they will pass you up and you will be behind. As long as you grind and work hard you will succeed.”

Adding to that grind is the travel and if you don’t believe it, ask Robinson. He was with his Byrd teammates for a tournament in Omaha, then flew to Colorado Springs for a mission trip, then flew to Dallas to play on his travel ball team.

“That was tough,” he says. “I was gone for two weeks.”

Robinson is one of those who has played for both his school team as well as travel ball during the summer. When it’s all done, he estimates he will have played in about 60 games before school resumes. But it’s not like he didn’t expect it to be this way – he’s been playing travel ball since he was 9.

“The time aspect of travel is the toughest part of it,” he says. “Getting to meet new people and traveling to new places is the best part. Getting to play in big stadiums is great.”

“I like meeting new people from around the state and the nation and making bonds with them,” Ferguson says.

“The best thing about travel baseball is probably going to all the different cities and colleges around the country,” Morgan says. “And just having a great time with all of your friends.”

Contact JJ at JohnJamesMarshall@yahoo.com