Southern Maryland baseball star to play for Team USA

Santa Clarita, CA - Most 12-year-olds around this time of year are just sitting around, enjoying their summer vacation. But for one St. Mary’s County youth-baseball phenom, this summer will go down as more than just memorable, as he prepares to play for Team USA’s U12 Baseball Team in the World Baseball-Softball Confederation (WBSC) U12 World Cup in Taiwan starting on July 26.

Dillon Adkins, who started playing baseball in some form at just 3-years-old, has been described by coaches, friends, and family members alike as a true athlete. But his journey to making the final 18-man roster and playing for the national team has put him eye-to-eye with adversity more than once.

“I had to go to a trial around Southern Maryland which is called the National Team Identification Series (NTIS), and it's a smaller stage where kids go if they want to get to [California for tryouts],” Adkins told “There are coaches and scouts that are a part of USA Baseball [at NTIS], but not as high [up] as they are here. It’s a one day tryout and they just test fielding and hitting and that kind of stuff… Then they wait a few days to find out if they were invited to California.”

While some of the athletes that come to the NTIS trials will have to go to a second event to get their invitations confirmed, Adkins’ talent got himself the priority to skip that round and go straight to the USA Baseball U12 National Open across the country.

“They had the National Open in California, which is for 112 of the best kids in the United States,” Adkins explained. “They have tryouts for three days and then after that we have a tournament type thing where scouts watch all the games… On the last day, we had our last game, and they took us to a big field and announced the 36 for the next round.”

Following that first round of cuts, the recruits were divided into two teams that would go on to practice and play together over the course of three days of continued trials. After finishing ahead of schedule on the final day, each boy went back to their room to get cleaned up and patiently waited for a team meeting that could change their life with the final 18-man roster being revealed.

“We had two hours where we had to sit in our hotel and wait, we couldn't [even] leave our rooms. I was sitting there, sweating,” Adkins said with a laugh. “We walked down there and I was just sitting in my chair and my heart was pounding. I had never felt that before.”

Fortunately for Adkins, he would not have to wait long to hear his name called off the roster, being just the second player named off which he described as making him feel “pretty good.” When asked about if he thought he would make it all the way to the final roster, he made it clear that his confidence has grown since he arrived in California.

“I had a little doubt at first,” Adkins said. “I mean I was going against all of the best players in the United States like this isn’t going to be easy. I assumed these kids were going to be really good, but I was up there too. Even the kids that didn't make the next few rounds were still [really] good.”

Adkins, pictured as fourth from the left in the back row.

Although he has a plethora of awards at home for his outstanding baseball achievements throughout his life, such as last summer when he won the MVP Award and the home-run derby at a 180-person “Baseball Youth” tournament, but Adkins believes that making Team USA’s roster is another major “trophy.”

“[Playing for Team USA] means representing the United States of America,” Adkins explained. “We have to play with an ‘us mentality,’ there is no I in team around here in USA Baseball. When you are on the USA 18-man roster, everyone has a part on the team, there is no one man team. You mess up, we all are going to get in trouble. We are all going to do stuff together, it is no one person.

Right now, Adkins is anticipating that he will likely be pitching or possibly playing first base. However, Adkins’ travel-ball coach, believes that he is one of the best 12-year-old pitchers that will take the mound. Head Coach of the Southern Maryland Sting U12 Team, Ryan McCarthy, says that in the two years he has been coaching him, he can confidently say Adkins is gifted in how he sees the game.

“Dillon has an excellent baseball mind,” McCarthy said. “He gets a good jump on fly-balls, he is an excellent pitcher, he can hit with the best of the 12-year-olds, he is a very good athlete. Once he puts his mind to something he can go do very big things.”

From his left-handed 75mph fastball, to his curveball which McCarthy stated was “as good as you can get for his age,” it becomes evident that Adkins might be on track to become the next serious Major League Baseball (MLB) prospect to come out of the county.

“Dillon is special,” McCarthy explained. “If he stays on the path he is on, we are going to be hearing good things about him. Usually, everybody in the first round [of the MLB draft] when they show their picture on TV and their [biography], they are wearing a Team USA jersey. If he keeps going, he’s going to be the next one drafted out of St. Mary’s County… To go along with Robbie Kidwell and Ljay Newsome, both of which played for the Sting program.”

Team USA is the No. 2 seed for the 12-team tournament, with Japan coming in at No. 1. The top three teams of each of the six-team groupings will move forward, and then finally the best team of each group will playoff for a gold medal and the title of “World Champion.”

For those interested in watching and supporting Adkins on the field, a select number of games will be broadcast online, if the time difference isn't discouraging. Additionally, this will be the inaugural tournament for the multi-million dollar Taiwanese stadium, of which there is an anticipated packed house.

“We will have a select number of games streamed [online]," Assistant Director of USA Baseball Media Relations Chris Pharis explained. "You can go to , they built a whole website just based on this event. They will have a full schedule of everything going on. There will only be a couple games streamed, it’s only the games we play on the big field in the $130 Million stadium they just opened [not the games on the side fields]… WBSC will provide live stats, but they are 12 hours ahead from east coast time. Our first five games will start at 2AM Eastern Standard Time."

Following the tournament, Adkins hopes to go on and play baseball through college and eventually hopes to be “drafted No. 1 overall” in the MLB and to go on and “win a World Series.” While he is currently districted to go to Chopticon High School in two years, Adkins has said he would like to play for a private high school in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference such as St. Mary’s Ryken or Dematha High School if provided the resources. Additionally, the Adkins Family would like to thank all of their friends and family who have supported getting Dillon to where he is today.

Team USA will debut in the WBSC U12 Baseball World Cup against Australia on July 26. Help join in cheering on SOMD’s best, #25, and the rest of Team USA.

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