The 84th year of the National Baseball Congress World Series is underway at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium
The tournament brings teams from across the country every year, but this years tournament also has the youngest team returning to take a crack at winning the title.
316 Elite 18U team is compiled of mostly 18-year old recent high school graduates and two 17-year old players.
Some are from schools down the road, like Arkansas City, others played high school ball in Valley Center and here in Wichita.
All but two players are signed on to play baseball in college or junior college next year, but first, they wanted to come back and play in the NBC World Series.
Left fielder Blake Freeman sat in the stands with some of his teammates scouting the match up between the Denver Cougars and San Antonio Angels. Both teams the 316 Elite could end up playing later in the tournament.
“I think it’s just the experience of being a really young team to show what we have in front of a big group of people,” said Freeman.
This team made its first appearance in the NBC World Series last year, with most players being only 17-years old at the time.
“We had a 15-year old on our team last year so we really the youngest team ever to make it to the NBC,” said Ray Baty, the teams manager.
Kadin Pearson, who plays second base and will play Hutchinson Community College next year says their inexperience didn’t stop them from winning the first game they played last year.
“We came in with the underdog mentality, we played really well, we knew we could do it but never really expected it,” said Pearson.
Elite 316 catcher Colten Richardson is hoping that experience will pay off when they take the field this time around.
“NBC World Series is a special thing coming in with the mindset and experience from last year I think we come in with a lot more expectations we should have going into this thing,” said Richardson.
For Freeman, Pearson, Richardson and pitcher Nathan Hungate, they just enjoy taking the field together.
“It’s great to be on this team, team full of brothers, get to know each other all these four years,” said Hungate.
Elite 316 is in Pool C for this years tournament, along with the Liberal Bee Jays, Denver Cougars and San Antonio Angels.
They’ll play the Liberal Bee Jays first, beginning at 7 p.m. Friday night.