Lucky and Good: Cocalico shortstop vies for National team

By on August 31, 2016
Nick Lucky of Cocalico represented Ohio Valley at the USA Baseball 17-U National Identification Series held in Cary, North Carolina.

Nick Lucky of Cocalico represented Ohio Valley at the USA Baseball 17-U National Identification Series held in Cary, North Carolina.

Cocalico junior shortstop Nick Lucky was one of 256 baseball players competing for 12 spots on USA Baseball’s 17-and-under National team from August 18-21 in Cary, North Carolina.

The 16-year-old Lucky now waits for the announcement, the week of September 12, along with Lancaster Countians Kyle Hess (Donegal) and Dillon Marsh (Lancaster Catholic).

This was the third step in what USA calls its National Team Identification Series (NTIS).

“When I went to the first one (at Manheim’s Spooky Nook Sports), it was whatever you could do to stand out,” said Lucky. “College coaches, pro scouts and ex-players were called ‘the task force.’ They watched how you walk, how you play, how you talk to others and how you are as a teammate. They watch every little thing you do.”

“We got down there late Wednesday night,” described Lucky about his most recent trip to NC. “On Thursday, we got our uniforms and got together as a team for defensive drills. That evening there was a meeting with the director of USA Baseball. He told us what they are all about and what the task force is looking for.”

“On Friday morning, we had team pictures,” continued Lucky. “Then we did more infield-outfield drills. All the infielders did double play flips, balls in the hole and slow rollers. Then we did hitting. I was measured at 5-11½ and 172 pounds. I ran from first to third base in 7.2 seconds and had a vertical jump of 32 inches.”

“They told us 7.2 and under was burning speed,” explained Lucky. “We had to ask, because we usually run a 60-yard dash. I was glad to run the 7.2.”

“We played two games on Saturday and Sunday mornings,” said Lucky. “We beat both Southern California and Northern Texas. In the past, the Ohio Valley team had a reputation for not only losing, but getting shut out. People always think the kids up North can’t play baseball, that you have to be from the South or the West.”

In the two games, Lucky reached base four times in six plate appearances. He singled once, was walked twice and hit by a pitch once while grounding out and flying out against the top flight competition.

Most athletes attend this type of showcase to earn the attention of college coaches and perhaps snag some college scholarship money. In Lucky’s case his commitment has already been made, at least verbally, to Coastal Carolina. He received a scholarship offer last September from Coach Gary Gilmore while on an unofficial visit, and was on board. Nine months later Coastal won the College Baseball World Series.

“I went to a camp there last summer,” added Lucky. “Ever since seventh grade, it was a dream of mine to go there. It was just a good fit. They said if I continue to do well, they could boost the scholarship amount.”

As a freshman at Cocalico, Lucky was named second team all-section shortstop, moving up to first team recognition as a sophomore. When asked for his biggest thrill of the USA experience, the Eagle infielder replied, “Just being able to have USA across your chest. It’s a blessing to be part of playing for the best country in the world.”

As to the future?

“When I was younger, I always thought I’d join the military,” said Lucky. “I don’t know, I think that’s changed. It’s every kid’s dream to play professional baseball. It would be a blessing if I could. I’m always looking toward that. My motivation is just to get there.”

 

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