The Statesboro High baseball season is a distant memory and the Blue Devils’ now-graduated star Jackson Ware has been committed to play at Mercer for over seven months.
But for the speedy middle infielder, there is no rest as he continues his promising career on the diamond.
Last week, Ware spent his time in Norman, Oklahoma as a proud representative of Team Georgia at the Heartland Baseball Classic. As he did with the Devils throughout his career, Ware was a solid contributor as the Georgia team finished fourth out of seven teams in the tournament.
“It was a lot of fun to play against great competition,” Ware said. “I know that a lot of the guys there are on their way to big schools in college. A few even got drafted. It was a great challenge and I liked being able to reconnect with some guys I had played with before in Columbus.”
Ware’s Devils made a run to the quarterfinals of this year’s state playoffs and advanced through the first round of state competition in each of his final two seasons.
In a year that saw him make countless great plays in the field and start plenty of rallies, Ware’s highlight moment came when he launched a walk-off home run to defeat perennial rival Wayne County in a region matchup.
Since then, he hasn’t let off the gas.
Ware is a member of the Bombers’ ballclub in Augusta that has kept him busy since graduating in May. Now that he is back from Oklahoma, he’ll resume play with the Bombers.
The schedule has been hectic to be sure, but Ware has embraced it as preparation for the long hours that will have to be put in at the college — and perhaps, someday — at the minor league level.
“I’ve been travelling back and forth to Augusta just about every day,” Ware said. “As for Oklahoma, we bussed all the way out there from Atlanta. It was definitely a long drive and we probably went through eight or nine movies. But it’s a great experience to come together with teammates on a long trip like that.”
Ware’s tenure with the Bombers will end when their season concludes in early July. He won’t play another game until fall practices start at Mercer, but plans to spend his final month before college working out and practicing at Statesboro’s facilities.
From there, he’ll head to Macon, ready to pick up where he left off.
“It’s an exciting time,” Ware said. “I’ll head up there at the same time as all of the students and I’ll get settled in. When the time comes to start with baseball, it’s going to be great to get on the field and play with my new team.”
Brown making his rounds
Statesboro’s Blakely Brown has yet to begin his senior season on the baseball diamond, but is already a household name for many scouts around the country.
The end of the high school season has done nothing to slow down Brown as a full slate of summer ball and a handful of prestigious tournaments and showcases have filled his schedule.
“It’s hectic, but fun,” Brown, a standout infielder and pitcher for the Blue Devils, said. “Everywhere I go, I’m facing a lot of other great players. That’s what I really like. It’s great to get challenged and to try to prove yourself everywhere you go.”
Brown has set up shop in the perfect location to see tough tests as his Georgia Roadrunner club team plays out of Marietta — home of the East Cobb Baseball program that routinely produces Major League talent such as current Atlanta Braves David Hale and Jason Heyward. He began play with the Roadrunners following the end of Statesboro’s school year and will continue into next month before returning to town for his final year of high school.
But even the East Cobb hotbed hasn’t been able to keep Brown from venturing to the biggest and best events around the country.
Two weeks ago, Brown and former SHS teammate Jackson Ware were in Fort Meyers, Florida for the Perfect Game national showcase. After wrapping up in the Sunshine State, a plane was waiting to shuttle Brown to the Tournament of Stars, hosted by USA Baseball in Cary, N.C.
Brown was one of just 108 players throughout the entire nation selected to tryout for the chance to make a 20-man roster that will travel to Mexico to take part in exhibition games. Next up will be a trip all the way up to Syracuse, New York for the East Coast Pro showcase.
With seemingly each new week bringing about a fresh showcase or tryout, there has been no shortage of professional scouts getting a great look at what Brown brings to the table.
“When you first see scouts and recruiters and games and showcases, it can get you a little nervous,” Brown said. “You always notice, but I think I’ve gotten comfortable with them. I think it just makes everyone compete a little more. You know that you’ll stand out if you do well against top competition with people watching.”
Professional scouts likely have more than a few reports filed on Brown, but college recruiters don’t need to bother as he has already committed to play for the University of Georgia in the spring of 2016. Brown was open to playing college ball anywhere, but his experience during these busy summers helped him to decide on the Bulldogs.
“The biggest thing was talking to the new coaching staff,” Brown said. “I really like the direction they’re heading.
“It also helps that I know a lot of guys who are already there or going there this year. We talk a lot and it’s great to feel comfortable with where I’m going and know what to expect when I get there.”
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.