By JENNA RHUDE
Moapa Valley Progress
“I just try to wait for my pitch, put a good swing on it, and try not to do too much,” said local youngster Rylan Evans in describing what it feels like to step up to bat.
This month, Evans and his elite club baseball team, Sand Baseball, traveled to Florida to participate in the Wilson DeMarini World Series organized by United States Specialty Sports Association. This invitation-only tournament consisted of 16 teams from around the nation.
Evans team, seated in St.George, Utah won 1st place in the tournament. It was the first time, since the tournament began 15 years ago, that a Utah team has taken the championship.
Evans helped the team by leading with a .450 batting average, 21 defensive outs, 9 hits and 7 stolen bases. Very proud parents, Wayne and Melissa Evans were excited for their son and the team.
The series took place in Viera, Florida at the new Space Coast Sports Complex. What made this venue unique was the astro turf. The fields were able to absorb up to 8 inches of water and still remain playable.
This was great for the Sand team. Only a few weeks prior, they had participated in another tournament in Omaha, Nebraska. While there, the team made it to the championship game, only to have it canceled due to a massive amount of rainfall. Thankfully during this tournament they only played one game in the rain.
But the Florida field did claim a piece of the hometown favorite, Rylan. While stealing a base, Evans received a serious road rash/burn on his leg. His mom said that it is healing well.
Rylan said that he usually plays 3rd base and likes it. Oh, and he can also pitch, “a little”, he says with a grin.
Well that little bit of pitching ended up helping his team in the 4th game of the bracket. Evans pitched 4 innings, bringing in the “pitching win.”
The team played a total of eight games at the tournament. Five pool, or bracket games and then moved on to the semi-final, single elimination portion, where they took the title with a 5-1 ending score.
Evans acknowledged that there were some really good teams competing at the tournament. His team only took one loss early. That one team that they lost to was “really good,” he recounted shaking his head.
While Rylan has played basketball and football for several years, his true passion lies with baseball. Beginning around the age of 6 with little league and quickly moving up to club play by the age of 8.
“Rylan has gone a lot of places and done more because he plays baseball, than he would if he wasn’t playing,” said Rylan’s mom, Melissa. “His coaches love him because he is very coachable and responsive.”
“Our son is very competitive, but not in the traditional way,” Melissa added. “He likes to win, yes. But he is always looking on how to improve himself, not only for him, but for his team.”
During this tournament season, Evans has been able to travel to Arizona, Nebraska, Florida and several other places more nearby, such as Las Vegas and Utah.
And how much of a struggle is it for the Evans to get their son to practices out of town, or not be able to attend all of his out of state games?
“His mom and I split our time taking him to practices and his siblings are really supportive,” said Rylan’s dad, Wayne, with a proud smile.
“My favorite part about him coming home every time he’s been gone, is hearing him tell the twins how much he missed them,” Melissa said.
Evans is the oldest of 6 children. His parents say that each child has their own hobbies and talents that they excel at, baseball is Rylan’s.