Ian Fernandez, #15 from Miami Sunset, is a pitcher that graduates with the class of 2020. Ian Fernandez was coming off a junior year where he had an ERA below two, and was building on that impressive resume when his season was cut short. Ian reflects on what this experience has meant to him. Essay: Like all students, I was caught off guard when school was canceled the week before Spring Break. At that time, it seemed we would be returning to school after the two-week layoff. Then we found out the season was being suspended. As the days went on, most of us started realizing we may never return to our schools to finish the school year, my senior year. Not going to lie, at first, having a few weeks off seemed like it would not be so bad. Now, like many, I find myself thinking about the things we had that maybe we didn’t appreciate as much as we should have, and the things we may never be able to experience. There are a lot of things I really miss. I looked forward, every day, to hanging with my teammates during lunch. I miss seeing them, and my other friends during different times of the day, either in class, or in the halls. I miss seeing my girlfriend and spending time with her. I miss hanging out with my friends Riley and Luis every day after practice, eating at Burger King, WaWa, or Little Caesars, just before going to work out. I miss talking to my teachers about life. I miss the Saturday field work and BBQ with the players, coaches, and our families. I miss hanging out with the boys in the locker room, messing with each other. I miss our biggest fan Bolo keeping score. I miss the feeling of waking up and realizing I have a start that day. I miss talking to my dad after the games. But most of all, I miss the bus rides to the away games. If they cancel the season, I will be miss celebrating senior day with all the seniors. I will miss seeing what we could have accomplished as we were just starting to gel. I will miss my coaches, and I will miss my family and my girlfriend seeing me play. I will miss the feeling after a win. I am thankful that God put Miami Sunset High School in my path. There is no other school I would have wanted to have graduated from. I know this year will be written about forever, so in a way our senior class will never be forgotten. I know that closing schools and canceling baseball will not affect my relationship with my friends and girlfriend. I also understand I am not alone. Sports all over the country were canceled. There are millions of athletes like me, probably missing many of the same things I do. We can’t spend time thinking and dwelling about what we miss or will be missing. We must appreciate the memories we have, maintain the friendships we have established, and understand that even though we will miss out on a few things, the best is yet to come. Editors Note: Seniors wanting to enter the competition, follow the link below: HSBN Senior Essay Scholarship Competition
The first High School Baseball Network All-American Weekend kicks off tonight with what shapes up to be a thrilling home run derby presented by the POWER SHOWCASE World Classic. Prior to participating in workouts and games later on this weekend, a collection of 18 talented sluggers will compete in the prestigious derby. Over the past eleven years the POWER SHOWCASE has evolved to provide one of the best amateur baseball experiences around, allowing ball players from all ages to showcase their tools and talents. The POWER SHOWCASE World Classic is an elite competition in a Major League stadium at Miami Marlins Park in front of an international audience. It is a terrific vehicle for player’s careers that creates positive lasting memories for everyone involved. Current professional stars like Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have previously taken part in the POWER SHOWCASE.
“This is the third HSBN derby that we have done together, and I am very excited to be a part of the tremendous growth of HSBN and the addition of the All American Weekend,” Domenico said. “HSBN does an incredible job of promoting players and they are going above and beyond to maximize the exposure to college coaches through this event.”Friday’s derby serves as a mini-showcase that will also bring out the voice of HSBN, Luis Perez announcing and running the scoreboard just as he will for the events all weekend long. Participants will hit off a two-wheeled jugs pitching machine in an open-bat format, which means the old BESR bats are allowed. POWER SHOWCASE founder and President Brian Domenico will feed the machine baseballs all night, as he typically does at the showcases each year. Each player will receive 13 outs in the preliminary round, with the top three moving on to the finals. The finalists will receive 10 outs each. Tonight, there will be five award certificates handed out for longest home run, consecutive home runs, most homers hit during preliminary round, and overall home run total. The overall winner of Friday’s derby gets an automatic invitation to the 11th annual POWER SHOWCASE World Classic at Marlins Park from December 27-30th. For those who were not able to secure their spot in the HSBN Derby tonight, or do not win, all is not lost. There are still a few spots available in the Babe Ruth Classic game for players in the 2019-2020 classes. If interested contact Brian Domenico at (561) 271-7247 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tonight, players will arrive early throughout the evening tonight for welcome dinners and meetings with their coaches, as the first step in the schedule of weekend events. The weekend will then ramp up the energy and excitement heading into Saturday’s workouts and Sunday’s games. Leading the group of contenders is Royal Palm Beach senior Tarik Latchmansingh, whose 13 career high school home runs leads the field of contenders. Latchmansingh has also previously participated in several POWER SHOWCASE events and has experience hitting off the pitching machine. West Boca’s Alex Cordero and McArthur’s Jack Bermudez have also shown strong power numbers in their high school careers and could threaten for the title. Yet nothing is guaranteed and anything is possible for the hitters who swing away aiming for the fences at Paul Demie Mainieri Field at St. Thomas University. HSBN Power Showcase Home Run Derby Participants and order of Appearance: 1, Ricardo Sobalvarro – South Dade – 3B/P – Class of 2017 2. Albert Espinosa – Columbus – C/1B – Class of 2019 3. Jose Lima – Coral Shores – 3B/1B – Class of 2017 4. Maxwell Romero – Pembroke Pines Charter – C/OF – Class of 2019 5. Alex Cordero – West Boca – 1B/P – Class of 2018 6. Tarik Latchmansingh – Royal Palm Beach – 3B/1B – Class of 2017 7. Andrew Fernandez – Heritage Christian – 2019 8. Luis Aviles – Westminster Christian – C/OF – Class of 2017 9. David Munoz – Homestead – C/3B – Class of 2018 10. Jefferson Casillas – Apopka – 2019 11. Santos Grande – Monsignor Pace – 3B/1B – Class of 2017 12.Brandon Cruz – Monsignor Pace – 1B/DH – Class of 2017 13. Kristopher Soto – Florida Christian – 2018 14. Nick Deegan – Palmetto – OF/3B – Class of 2017 15. Cameron Husing – Atlantic – C/1B – Class of 2017 16. Jack Bermudez – McArthur – 3B/1B – Class of 2017 17. Josue Zuany – Pompano Beach – 2020 18. Robert Moya – iMater – 2020
The day you have all been waiting for has arrived, as we give you the seedings for the inaugural HSBN March Madness Shootout presented by Galeo Spices. What position is your favorite team starting from? The wait is over, so let’s find out!
2015 HSBN March Madness Shootout Brackets
– Gold Bracket –
1. Archbishop McCarthy – The Mavericks came into this season not knowing what to expect after graduating nearly everyone on the roster last season. What they, and the rest of South Florida has learned is that this young crop of Mavericks can play. The club has started a perfect 13-0 this season. McCarthy comes into the tournament with plenty of big-game experience in the program, and this will be the first chance the young group has to make a splash in a big-time event.
2. TERRA Institute – One of the most surprising teams of 2015, the Wolves have earned one of the top seeds in the tournament. The team has as good a resume as anyone in the field, having already beaten American, Mater Academy, Braddock, and Belen Jesuit. Now they have an opportunity to solidify themselves as one of the top teams in the state if they can run the table and win the Shootout.
3. Flanagan – No stranger to a tough schedule, the Falcons have already faced Monsignor Pace, Columbus, and Killian. Flanagan also faces Westminster Christian as a final brush-up before the start of the tournament. Since dropping their first two of the year, the Falcons have won nine a row. To win the shootout, Flanagan will have to defeat four of the top teams in South Florida, but if any team is battle-tested and ready for the challenge, it is the Falcons.
4. Benjamin – The lone Palm Beach team in the field, the Buccaneers are looking to finally break through at playoff time in 3A. They are currently leading District 3A-13, and the team has played as tough a schedule as anyone this season. The Bucs will face their two biggest district rivals in the days leading up to the Shootout, and the competition gets even stiffer starting on Saturday. A win in the tournament could give Benjamin the confidence they need as they roll towards the second half of the season.
5. Belen Jesuit – No team has been harder to figure out this season than the Wolverines. After starting the year 4-1, with wins over Pine Crest and Killian, Belen has stumbled of late, losing close games to Cardinal Gibbons, Coral Springs Charter and TERRA. However, the team’s four losses are by a combined five runs, and the smallest adjustments may be all it needs to go on a streak. If any team has the talent to get hot and make some noise in the Shootout, it’s the Wolverines.
6. Mater Academy – The Lions are one of three defending state champions in this year’s March Madness field. Mater again looks strong enough to make a deep run in the 6A playoffs, and opening the tournament against a scrappy ST. BRENDAN squad will provide a tough test early on. The Lions proved last season that they can handle the challenge in beating several great teams in a row, and they have already beatend strong programs in Columbus and Braddock this season. Mater gets its final preparations by facing Gulliver and district-rival Doral Academy this week heading into the start of the Shootout.
7. Braddock – Another surprising team in 2015, the Bulldogs turned to a familiar face before the season started in former Manager Manny Fernandez. Braddock has won seven straight, including wins over district rivals Coral Gables and Columbus. The club is unbeaten in district play and is also a perfect 6-0 at home. Braddock swings the bats as well as any team in the Shootout, and the team plays with a lot of energy and passion. The Bulldogs are still a bit of a mystery, and this week will provide some key answers into how high their ceiling is moving forward.
8. Miami Brito – The defending 2A champions have picked up where it left off last season, winning its first nine games before dropping the last two. The Panthers will be tested early and often in the Shootout, but are a club that welcomes the challenge. Brito has played a lot of tough road games this season, and has outscored its opposition 112-29 in the process. The team has a nice balance of offense and defense and is every bit a contender as any club in the Shootout. A deep run in the bracket could send a strong message to the rest of Class 2A that the Panthers are as strong as ever.
9. American – The Patriots are coming off a dream year where they won the 7A state crown. They are once again off to a strong start, and are poised to make another run through 7A. American has a tendency to be streaky, and has only lost two in a row once in the part two years. The Patriots ability to string wins together gives them a great chance in the Shootout. Their toughness will be tested as one of the top teams in the Gold bracket.
10. Westminster Academy – Manager Nick James has a state championship on his resume, and he has built his Lions program into a perennial contender in Class 3A. To take the next step, Westminster will have to win one of these big events, and no time provides a better chance to do so than by taking down the field in this tournament. The Lions enter the Shootout with the unique distinction as the only team in the field who has not lost to a South Florida squad this season, with their only two losses coming on a two-game road trip to North Florida.
St. Brendan – The Sabres have struggled against the tougher teams on their schedule, but are still a talented and dangerous club. Manager Luis Padron loves to pit his guys against the toughest competition around, and the Shootout provides exactly the sort of challenge they are looking for. Coming in as a low seed makes the road through the bracket that much tougher, but it is also the sort of underdog scenario that the Sabres thrive off of.
Monsignor Pace – The Spartans are another team that has had an up and down season so far. Wins over Palm Beach Gardens and Flanagan had the team hoping for a top seed in the Gold bracket, but recent losses to LaSalle, St. Brendan, and Belen Jesuit have left the Spartans with a tough road to the championship. Pace faces TERRA just before the start of the Shootout, and a win there could bring just enough momentum for a program that has long proven it can win big games in tough environments.
Pine Crest – First-year Manager Wayne Stofsky has his Panthers on a roll coming into the Shootout. The team has gone 5-1-1 in its last seven games, and has as much talent as any team in the bracket. If the Panthers can put it together for a week, Pine Crest could be one of the sleepers to watch. The Panthers are led by two well-known stars in Griffin Conine and Garret Rukes, both of whom can change a game all on their own.
Coral Gables – One of the teams that entered 2015 as one of the favorites in 8A, the Cavaliers slid into the Gold bracket on the strength of their schedule, despite having a .500 record. Their biggest win of the year came in the opener against West Broward. Opening up against one of the top seeds in the tournament will be a difficult challenge, and making a run through this tough field is exactly what the team is looking for to help turn things around.
15. Cypress Bay – The Lightning have played to expectations, and as one of the last teams to make the Gold field, Cypress Bay will have to go through some tough teams to be crowned champions in the Gold bracket. The Lightning should be helped by having their home crowd behind them, as they have been selected as one of the hosts of the March Madness Shootout.
16. West Broward – The Bobcats started the season with a two-game gauntlet that included Boca Raton and Coral Gables. They then turned their season around, winning six of their next eight, and can be considered among the dark horse teams with a legitimate shot to take home the title. This veteran squad is looking for some signature wins to build off of heading into the second half of the season.
– Black Bracket –
Hialeah Educational Academy – First-year Manager Reggie Rodriguez, who came over from Dade Christian, has the Bulldogs thinking big in 2015. One of the surprise teams of the year, the Bulldogs sit atop 3A-15, and now will take the field from an unfamiliar position as the hunted. They have earned a high seed, and many believe they could have been chosen for the Gold bracket. How they react to being the hunted could define where they go from here on out.
Coral Glades – Out of every team in the HSBN March Madness Shootout, it was the Jaguars, under first-year Manager Mike Goullette, that shocked South Florida early. They started the season 6-0, and received the attention of their district. Even after losing three of their last four, Coral Glades has enough talent to make a run at the title. The Jaguars have been particularly strong on the road, going 6-1 away from their home field.
SLAM – Another first-year Manager, Alfonso Otero has his Titans right in the mix for a 3A-15 title. SLAM easliy could have been in the Gold bracket, but the lack of a signature win hurt the Titans. Now they get a chance to prove they are for real and a team to be reckoned with. The Shootout is the biggest event that SLAM has taken part of in its short program history, and any success it accomplishes will work to fill the first blank lines on a team history book it has only just begun writing.
North Broward Prep – Anyone that sleeps on the Eagles need look no further than last season when North Broward shocked the baseball community by upsetting Key West in the regional finals, and then coming within a few innings of reaching the state 4A championship game. The record may not be there in 2015, but the championship pedigree within the program still makes the Eagles a contender.
Coral Springs – The Colts are in the midst of a rebuilding year, but have come up with some big wins, including a victory over West Broward and also last week’s district victory over Coral Glades. Coral Springs as been streaky this year, tending to string both its wins and losses in a row. If the Colts can work on the positive side of that trend they could make a deep run through the bracket.
Alonzo Mourning – Mourning comes into the tournament at 8-4, yet they have not been tested with the strength of schedule that they will see in the Shootout. The team has an explosive offense that strings hits together very well, and a pitching staff that is rounding into form. If the Sharks can eliminate defensive and base-running mistakes, they could be a team that makes a deep run through March.
Chaminade-Madonna – Excitement surrounds the Lions program every year, and that is no different this season. Chaminade has played some nail-biter games, including an extra-inning win last week against district rival Somerset. The Lions are 2-5 in their district, and 5-0 when going outside 4A-14. Manager Mike Moss has traditionally gotten the most out of his players in the biggest scenarios, and a deep tournament run is exactly what the Lions need heading into the second half of the season.
Mater Lakes Academy – Like most teams in the black bracket, consistency has been an issue in 2015 for the Bears. The only team in the bracket that Mater Lakes has played is ChaminadeMadonna, losing 3-2. Mater Lakes has played its best baseball of late, and how they fare against the rest of the bracket will give a look into the championship prospects for the Bears.
South Miami – Dennis Pujols and his Cobras have hovered around .500 for most of the season. The team is hitting just .250, and has had some problems getting on base, but its pitching has kept the Cobras in several games. Ace Ernesto Pino is as talented as any hurler in the Shootout, with the potential to lead his club on a deep bracket run. South Miami has also played a schedule that has it well-prepared for the challenge ahead.
Hialeah Gardens – The Gladiators have been competitive this year, but have not strung together a run of wins. They are young, but have the capability of pulling a few upsets off early in the tournament. Hialeah Gardens began the season with ten consecutive road games, going 4-6 in those contests. That experience playing in hostile environments could be a big benefit for the team during the Shootout.
LaSalle – The Royal Lions have had an up-and-down start to Hernan Adames’ tenure as Manager. LaSalle has been within a run or two in nearly every game the Lions have played, and they seem to be their own worst enemy. Whether the team plays like they did in defeating Belen and Pace, or whether they resemble the team that lost to Palmer Trinity, will be a big factor in determining how far LaSalle can go.
Keys Gate Charter – For a young program, the Knights have put a scare in some of the top teams in Miami. Last week, they pulled what many considered to be a big upset over then-#3 Key West. The Knights have played a very tough schedule in the first half of the season, which prepares them for the competition in the Shootout. Keys Gate could be a team to watch closely as the tournament progresses.
Miami Sunset – The Knights have had a rough go of it lately, and the March Madness Shootout provides an opportunity for them to turn their season around. They will have to do so coming from a lower seed, leaving little room for error. The positive note for the Knights is that mid-March has traditionally been the time of year when they string together some victories, which is exactly what the club needs to change the course of their season.
South Plantation – A late addition to the March Madness field, the Paladins, like many teams in the black bracket, are rebuilding. South Plantation won its first two games of the season, before hitting a rough patch. But tight losses to both Coral Glades and Cooper City have the Paladins believing they can upset a few teams next week. The team is strongest and deepest on the mound, which could make a huge difference in bracket-play.
Fort Lauderdale – Manager Terry Portice is one of the most respected managers in South Florida for the way that his teams have played the game. This year, the record is not there, but Portice will surely have a trick or two up his sleeve as the Flying L’s get invloved with one of the biggest tourneys of the year. Fort Lauderdale will have home-field advantage in the tournament, and in a bracket where many of the teams are equal, that could be a key factor.
Archbishop Carroll – This season is a learning curve for the Bulldogs under new Manager Andy Blanco. While their record does not indicate it, Archbishop has played some tight games and is close to turning the corner. Starting from the bottom seed will up the stakes for the Bulldogs. The team will need to embrace the underdog role, and it should be as hungry as anyone to get a victory in the Shootout.