Athens senior pitcher and second baseman Travis Takata is getting to do something most players only dream in their career.
Takata is on his way to Mesa, Arizona to play in the Under Armour All-America Preseason Tournament.
The players will take part in the opening ceremonies Friday night, where Takata will meet his teammates for the weekend.
The two-day tournament is scheduled for Jan. 17-18 at Cubs Park.
The park is the spring training site for the Chicago Cubs baseball team.
The tournament is for students who will be graduating in 2015-2017.
“It is a huge honor to be able to go to this thing,” Takata said. “To be able to play against great competition is something I am looking forward to and see where I stand with a lot of the great players in the nation.”
Selection to the team is based on a strong performance at a previous baseball factory event or recommendation by a pro scout.
“I nominated him to go and tryout. They e-mailed and called me to see if I had anybody,” Athens coach Dallas Robertson said. “I nominated him to go to the tryout in Tyler. He went through the workout and so not everyone that went to the tryout made it.”
Takata will be a member of one of the 28 teams who will be competing for the tournament championship.
During the tournament, the players will take part in pro-style workouts, where they are videotaped and receive a baseball factory player page displaying their footage.
The link to the webpage can be emailed to college coaches and professional scouts nationwide after the event.
With a solid performance at the tournament, the players will be considered to play in the 2015 Under Armour All-America game, to be held at Wrigley Field.
That game will be shown live on MLB Network.
Robertson said to have a player like Travis attend the event will be a big thing for the senior shortstop/pitcher.
“I want him to have a good experience. He will be playing with the elite across the country,” Robertson said. “To be considered a preseason Under Armour All-American I am hoping it gives him the confidence he needs to become the leader we need him to be.”
Takata said during the two-day event, he will get about four games to showcase his skills to college programs. He said that Major League Baseball teams will have a scout in Arizona for the tournament.
“I am hoping to show that even if you are from a small town, you can still go do great things and show them how we play baseball in East Texas,” Takata said. “We do not get any practice time. It worries me a little bit to get familiar with the guys that I will be playing with.”
He said he will be playing middle infield and some at third base against some of the best players across the country.
“Honestly, I am trying to take it one day at a time and see what happens,” Takata said.
Takata will be one of Athens senior leaders this upcoming season after a junior campaign in which he batted .367 with 21 runs batted in and 28 runs scored in 33 games.
Robertson said with his performance this past season and at the tryout in Tyler, Takata will be a player fans can pay attention to in 2015.
“It means a lot to our program,” Robertson said. “It goes to show you that his work ethic is unbelievable to begin with. It also shows you what hard work can do for a player. This is a good opportunity for him and for all of us to have a representative going to this big event.”