Baseball will return to the Olympics in 2020. A trio of Indian Creek players are hoping to be wearing that USA uniform when it does.
The three are already getting in on the ground floor.
Wyatt Phillips and brothers Dustin and Dylan Sprong got a chance to put on a USA Baseball jersey this past weekend when they traveled to North Carolina to try out for spots on the national U17 and U16 teams.
They had earned the opportunity by being chosen for their respective Great Lakes All-Region teams earlier in the year. Eighteen players were chosen in each age group for each of 10 regional squads.
After a weekend of those teams facing off against one another, USA Baseball will choose the best of the best for their national team rosters. The selections will be finalized next month.
Dylan and Dustin Sprong’s father, Kevin, said he’ll be satisfied whether his sons end up making the cut or not.
“Just getting here is a huge honor,” he said, “and if they don’t make it, we’re perfectly fine with that.”
Getting invited to try out should make the trip worthwhile no matter the end result. Numerous college coaches and scouts were in attendance for the tryouts, including representatives from the likes of Alabama, Notre Dame and the College of Charleston, the newly crowned College World Series champion.
Dylan Sprong, a junior at Indian Creek who plays center field and pitches, was trying out for the 17U team. Dustin Sprong, a pitcher, and Phillips, a shortstop, were chasing after spots on the 16U squad.
Dylan Sprong did what he could to make an early impression, tossing a pair of hitless innings against the New England regional team on Friday.
Whatever happens, the local standouts — the only three players from Indiana at the event — were happy for the opportunity to see where they stack up against some of the nation’s top players.
“Getting to compete against those kids and kind of compare yourself with the best from the country, it’s really an experience,” Phillips said.
Ryan Richardson, a coach with MVP Baseball who has worked with Phillips and Dustin Sprong for four years, is happy to see the players’ hard work paying dividends.
“A lot of that’s just putting in the work, really,” Richardson said of the players earning tryout invitations. “Obviously, the potential’s there, but they’ve put the work in.”
And they’re logging plenty of travel miles as a result. Phillips and Dustin Sprong also recently earned invitations to play with the Game Day USA 17U All-Star team in the Disney New Year’s Baseball Classic, which will be played in Orlando, Florida, in December.
Is a trip to Tokyo in 2020 in their futures? Time will tell.