Dub Baseball put another feather in its cap after having three players – including Hollister’s Jackson Pace – selected to represent Northern California at the 2017 National Team Identification Series in North Carolina.
Pace, Justin Kester-Johnson of Morgan Hill and Zach Lewis of Pacific Grove—all 13 and under—were identified following an All Star game tryout.
“We’re pretty pumped. It shows the experience of the program, especially with kids from different regions,” said Dub President Erik Wagle.
Dub had four players chosen to play in the All Star game, which identified who would be chosen to represent Northern California.
“I think this shows we’re doing good things,” Wagle said. “Obviously we’re developing players at a good rate.”
The NTIS is a nationwide program that seeks to identify future baseball talent through a series of regional tryouts leading to the series in North Carolina. From there, players are chosen out of their six respective age groups—starting from 11U and going up to 17U—to attend National Team Trials, National Team Development and the Tournament of Stars.
The 13U players will head out for four days of competition starting Aug. 9 in Cary, N.C.
Following team tryouts—where a travel team gets a chance to compete for a spot in the All Star game—individual players are chosen to advance to the next round.
That’s where the three plus Justin’s brother Trevor were chosen to compete.
From there, the three learned by email they had been chosen for the Northern California team. This is the second straight year Dub is sending a player to North Carolina after Aidan Keenan was picked last year.
All three players this year play for Dub’s 13U team, and all show off different skill sets that helped to make the team. Wagle said the 13U team has some great parent involvement and among them, Kester-Johnson, Pace and Lewis all come from great families who are active in the sport.
“This is the kind of vision we had when we started, and it’s started to become reality,” Wagle said. “Out goal is to take kids in this region and give them an opportunity to move to next level.”
The players said this is going to be a good measuring stick to see where they stand.
The trio will join forces with players from around Northern California, most of whom reside outside of the South Valley area.They said they will have one practice before heading over to North Carolina, but noted they are largely just trying to take in the experience of it all.
“I just want to see all the best players in my age bracket and see what they’ve got and see how I stack up against them,” Kester-Johnson said.
Wagle said the Morgan Hill product is a phenomenal athlete. Kester-Johnson plays center field where he uses his speed and aggressiveness to his advantage.
“He’s the 3 hitter on the team and one of the most dynamic players out there and one of the most athletic,” Wagle said.