Topsail to compete in USA Baseball national tournament this spring

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Coming off a 25-win season as Mideastern Conference Champions, the Topsail ball club has received an invitation to this year’s USA Baseball National High School Invitational (NHSI) set to take play March 25-26 at the organization’s National Training Complex in Cary. The fifth annual tournament will feature top prep baseball teams and individual talents across the nation.

To view the video announcement of the 2016 NHSI participants, click here.

The Topsail baseball team finished the year as the Mideastern Conference regular season and tournament champions. Photos by Joe Catenacci
The Topsail baseball team finished the year as the Mideastern Conference regular season and tournament champions. Photos by Joe Catenacci

“The National High School Invitational has established itself as the premier event on the high school baseball calendar and we are thrilled to partner with the Town of Cary, the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, and our media partner, Baseball America, for the 2016 event,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball’s Executive Director/CEO. “The NHSI continues to draw elite high school programs and players from across the U.S. for a one-of-a-kind high school baseball experience.”

2014 North Carolina AAA State Champions, Topsail High School, will serve as host of this year’s event. The Pirates finished its 2015 campaign with a 25-3 record and advanced to the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3A playoffs.

“It’s a huge honor for our program to be invited to this national event,” said Topsail Coach Granville Gehris. “To be the only team representing the state, it just speaks to what we’ve been able to do here over the last few seasons. We’ll be going up against some of the best in the nation that weekend. It’ll be a great test for us.”

With 10 former ballplayers currently competing at the college level, the Pirates continue to assist student-athletes in Hampstead to achieve their dream of playing collegiate baseball. The trend of developing ballplayers ready for the next level is ongoing.  Junior outfielder Sam Hall has already committed to Clemson, while Bryce Cota is set to attend Campbell University, but will forgo his senior year on the mound because of recent shoulder surgery.

“This will be a great experience for our team,” Cota added. “It’s pretty tough and will be rough during the year knowing that I can’t contribute, but my teammates are supporting me and will help me overcome these obstacles so I can be successful at the next level.”

Cota went to his first physical therapy session on Monday.

“It’s about doing everything right and taking things slow,” Cota said. “The surgery was the right thing to do and looking for it to help me in the long run rather than not get it done and potentially hurt me down the road.”

Highlighting the 2016 field is 2012 and 2013 NHSI champion Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, Calif.) and 2014 champion The First Academy (Orlando, Fla.).  Past participants Bingham High School (South Jordan, Utah) and Huntington Beach High School (Huntington Beach, Calif.) also return to the event, both vying for their first title.

Florida and California are well represented with seven of the 16 participants hailing from their states. Joining The First Academy out of the state of Florida are Charles W. Flanagan High School (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), North Broward Preparatory School (Pompano Beach, Fla.), and Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Fla.). Chaminade College Preparatory School (Los Angeles, Calif.) joins Huntington Beach High School and Mater Dei High School as representatives from California.

The Topsail baseball complex has undergone major renovations over the past three years. Photo courtesy- Chuck Riker.
The Topsail baseball complex has undergone major renovations over the past three years. Photo courtesy- Chuck Riker.

The Commonwealth of Virginia will be represented at the National High School Invitational for the first time with the selection of Liberty Christian Academy (Lynchburg, Va.) to the tournament field.

Rounding out the 2016 NHSI tournament pool are Allatoona High School (Ackworth, Ga.), Houston High School (Germantown, Tenn.), Florence High School (Florence, Ala.), Poly Prep Country Day School (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Rocky Mountain High School (Fort Collins, Colo.), and Walton High School (Marietta, Ga.).

“This is something we feel like where we earned the right to be there,” Gehris said.
“We’ll be able to showcase our talent and the kind baseof ball that’s play along the coast. A lot of what went into the invite is what we’ve been able to do here at Topsail over the last few years. USA Baseball was at our games last year against Orange High School, Great Bridge, Virginia and against West Forsyth in the playoffs. They thought we were the type of team and program that would fit the bill.”

The NHSI is a single-elimination championship tournament, with each participating team guaranteed to play four games. The official event schedule will be announced as part of a pre-event video series, detailing the first-round matchups with analysis from USA Baseball’s panel of experts, beginning on February 17.

For more information on the 2016 National High School Invitational, visit USABaseball.com.