STAFF REPORT - AMERICUS
Since the summer of 1995, the Americus Travelers Baseball Club has been a part of the travel baseball landscape. Founder and head coach Tim Estes is prepared to lead a talented group of 14 year old players from seven different school systems. The majority of the team returns from the 2018 squad that went 26–8 and a 3rd place finish at the Grand Slam World Series. Also returning are assistant coaches Jeff Fussell and Jarrod Wall. The Travelers compete as a MAJOR level team in various organizations such as Grand Slam Sports, Travelball Select and Top Gun, and end their season each year in Panama City Beach’s annual Grand Slam World Series.
A roster of only 11 players means that most of the team’s players will serve in dual roles as both a position player and a pitcher. Southland Academy’s Chase Ledger leads a deep and talented staff of arms. He will also continue his development behind the plate as a catcher. Southwest Georgia Academy’s Jaxson Haire returns to the team after a great 2018 season on the mound and is expected to play 3rd base as well. Tripp Thomas of Lee County will likely see time in several positions including 3rd base, short stop and outfield. Lee County’s Caden King was another right handed pitcher who experienced a lot of success last summer. He will also be a staple at 2nd base for the Travelers. Lee County’s Peyton Tompkins, a right handed pitcher and 1st baseman, returns to the squad after posting big numbers in 2018. Lee County’s Thomas Willis solidified a spot in the outfield and provides a great arm on the mound. Fitzgerald’s Landon Kight shows promise as a left handed pitcher and also sees time at 1st base and in the outfield. Schley County’s Owen Lamb provides a left handed look on the bump and depth in the Travelers outfield. Crisp County’s Dylan Davis will also see time in the outfield. There are two newcomers to the 2019 squad who are both expected to perform well. Deerfield Windsor’s Thomas Ray is a right handed pitcher, middle infielder, and center fielder. His speed will be a huge asset to the Travelers. Schley County’s Jack Clark brings a big bat into the line up as well as depth at the catcher position.
The 2019 Travelers schedule includes some reputable tournaments with major level competition. The team will begin the season on May 4–5 at the Gamechanger Wood Bat Tournament powered by Mizuno in Flowery Branch, GA. They will follow that up on May 11th in the one day Donkey Hacks Tournament in Cordele, GA. On May 17–19 the team will invade Lakepoint Sports Resort for the Travelball Select Lakepoint Challenge sponsored by Prep Sports Report. On June 1–2 the Travelers will defend their 2018 championship in LaGrange, GA at the Grand Slam Southeast Regional Championship. June 15-16 will see the Travelers head up to Griffin, GA for the Top Gun Baseball Battle for the Championship Chains. On June 22–23 the team will be a part of the Legends Training Travelball Select State Championship Tournament. The season will come to a close at the Grand Slam World Series of Baseball on July 1–7 in Panama City Beach, Florida.
While the schedule is loaded with high level competition, the Travelers staff feel that their team will continue to develop by playing such a strong field of teams. “This isn’t about having an undefeated record or trophy hunting,” said Coach Tim Estes. “This is about teaching our guys the game at a high level and continuing their baseball development. We’ve never felt that you get better by beating up on less talented teams. We want to be prepared when we get to Panama City and the only way to do that is to be battle tested.” As any good team goes, so goes the pitching and Pitching Coach Jeff Fussell feels his staff is deep and strong. “We have 6 or 7 guys who we feel can provide us with quality innings. They must be able to pound the strike zone and pitch to contact. If they can do that consistently, then we’ll have a chance to win a lot of ball games.” Offensively, the Travelers have a little bit of everything; guys with speed, some with power and several who have hit for a good average. Assistant Coach Jarrod Wall is looking for the right combination. “We know that there are multiple guys who can hit the baseball well, run the bases well, execute our small ball game and it’ll take us a few tournaments most likely to find out what our order should be and where everyone fits into the line up.” As the season approaches and all of these kids are getting reps with their school teams, the Travelers staff feels each player will be ready and prepared for the summer travel season from day one.