A number of Sitka’s top ball players were invited to play on travel teams down south this summer on the 2023 World Baseball Showcases (WBS) Colts 18U NW tour Black, Red and White teams, and the Rivals 16U Everett based squad, and a team in the Bay area.
Almost every player on the WBS Colts team either was a returning juco freshman or moved on to play college ball starting this fall, so the team was very experienced and extremely competitive playing against some of the top teams in the west. Nik Calhoun – P/2b (Taft) and Dylan Marx – SS/P (Feather River), were key starters on the Black team, and Grady Smith – P/3b (rising Sr. SHS) made several starts for the Black team as well.
The Black squad started the tour playing against one of the top-rated high school teams in the nation (Jesuit High, Portland Oregon-1st round draft pick Noble Meyer’s team) and a travel team from Camas, Oregon (Coast to Coast Turf 18U) that featured a number of future D-1 players and recruits. They won some and lost some in some very competitive games. They then headed to Nebraska where they faced off against two independent summer college teams with players from D-1 rosters from all over the country (North Platte Plainsmen and Western Nebraska Pioneers). They saw mostly 90+ mph on the mound, and led in every game they played, and won a game and lost a couple close ones in walk offs. You couldn’t have asked for a better challenge for the boys. The games were streamed with entertaining commentators so parents could watch from home.
Both our Sitka Black team starters played banged up a bit throughout the summer, but still put up respectable numbers. Nik Calhoun (Red Shirt at Taft) ended the summer with 20 innings pitched, a 3.15 ERA and a 1.6 WHIP, and 20 Ks, 9 BB. Dylan Marx, in 21 games at SS, with 76 plate appearances, ended in the top 3 in batting average, at .338, .851- OPS, 4- 2Bs, 2- 3Bs, 10-RBI. Dylan also ended up leading the team over 11 innings as a closer, with an impressive 0.00 ERA, 2 Wins, 0 Losses, 19 Ks, 2 BBs, .45 WHIP, and a 71% strike percentage, and saw his fastball get up to 86-87.
Rising Senior, Grady Smith, played in 26 games for all three of the WBS Colts teams, and batted a respectable .274, with 7 doubles and 16 RBI. He flashed the leather at third base, and on the mound, in 20.2 innings, he had a 3.81 ERA, with a 1.63 WHIP and 56.67 strike percentage, against mostly college level / or college bound bats.
Rising SHS Sophomore, Caleb Calhoun, also gained some valuable experience playing in 20 games against 18U competition, despite recovering from injury, batting .293 over the summer, with a .420 OBP. On the mound, Caleb pitched 9 innings, with a 4.67 ERA, with a 53.93 strike percentage.
All of the players gained a ton of experience, putting up with the rigors of a 27 + game schedule over a 30 day tour, where they traveled from Portland, Oregon, to Nebraska, to Port Angeles, Washington (the Black team winning the Firecracker tournament for 2nd year in a row), to Eureka, California, to Bakersfield, California. They really get a chance to see if this is a game they want to play at a high level, with some of the best, development oriented coaches on the west coast (Steve Fish, Jim Fritz).
Brett Ross (Rising sophomore at SHS) also gained valuable experience playing in over 25 games with former Sitka standout David Reynolds’s Rivals 16U team out of Everett Washington. Brett was recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the final part of his impressive freshman season, where he led off all year on a deep and talented Sitka varsity team and managed to make the all conference team. Brett plans on returning to play with Rivals next year.
Rising junior, Bryce Calhoun, also picked up some games with a team in California this summer. We will update this article with details of his summer when we can.