Grayson latest 8-AAAAA team invited to prestigious baseball tourney

Playing in the inaugural National High School Invitational seemed to have a positive impact on the Parkview and Brookwood baseball teams this past spring.

Another Region 8-AAAAA team hopes to reap the same benefits from the second edition of the prestigious national tournament next spring.

Grayson has accepted an invitation to be among the 16-team field at next year's event played March 27-30 at the USA Baseball National Training Center in Cary, N.C.

"It's an exciting opportunity," said new Rams head coach Jed Hixson. "It's good for our programs and good for our kids."

It will also give the Rams, who went 27-9 with a No. 3 state ranking and advanced to the Class AAAAA state semifinals this past spring, a chance to go up against some of the best teams in the nation.

Such an opportunity proved very beneficial to both Parkview (which went 2-1 during this year's event in April) and Brookwood (which went 1-2).

The Panthers and Broncos eventually faced each other in the Class AAAAA state championship series, with Parkview winning its second straight state title.

"I think it is going to help us," Hixson said. "In the region we play in, to play teams of that caliber about a week into our region schedule, it can only help us."

It could also be beneficial to several of the individual Rams players.

Several college and professional scouts are already expected to be there scouting some of the nation's top prospects, such as Grayson outfielder Austin Meadows, a Clemson commitment and expected to be one of the the top high school senior prospects in the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

The tournament offers other uncommitted players a chance to show those scouts what they can do, and the Rams have a strong returning senior class that includes Meadows, as well as other members of the Daily Post's All-County team from last year, including pitcher/outfielder Taylor Allum and second baseman Jeril Dawson.

"The kids will have a chance to showcase their talents," Hixson said. "We've got other kids like Taylor Allum and Chris Erwin, both of whom are committed to Kennesaw State, Jeril Dawson, Brandon Benson, Korey Anderson and others who will get a chance to get exposure. This will be a good stage for them to kind of step out of Austin's shadow."

But make no mistake, while Hixson is pleased with the opportunity and exposure the tournament offers his Rams, he says his team will not just be happy to be there.

"We're not wanting to go up there just to play," Hixson said. "We want to be competitive and be successful."