Woodlawn native helps Team USA U-14 baseball team to bronze

Before beginning freshman year at Calvert Hall, Stokes represented his country at Pan Am championships

August 04, 2010|By Colin Stevens, The Baltimore Sun

Troy Stokes Jr. expected Team USA to face spirited competition at the COPABE Pan Am 'A' 14-and-under baseball championships in Managua, Nicaragua last month.

Stokes, a Woodlawn native, was proven correct right away, with members of the Venezuelan and Mexican national teams telling members of the local media how they planned to beat the U.S. handily. The competitive words motivated members of the U.S. team — possibly too much.

"Before the game we were really pumped," Stokes said. "We just didn't calm down enough."

Team USA lost both games, but went on to claim the bronze medal with a 6-0 win against Brazil in which three pitchers combined for a perfect game.

The U.S. team finished the tournament with a 4-2 record, including another no-hit performance in a three-inning win over Honduras, 23-0.

"There's always somebody that's going to push you to be better," Team USA coach Darrell Don said. "But I think relaxing the 'USA, hey, we're always going to win' made us hungry, not only in international competition but in their high school careers and for me as a coach."

Stokes, an outfielder who primarily served as a defensive specialist off the bench, made the most of his opportunities at the plate, going 2-for-6 while driving in three runs.

Though representing his country was not free from stress, Stokes found ways to compose himself before his at-bats.

"It was a ton of pressure just because we were wearing USA," he said. "I would just tell myself I've been in a bunch of games and tournaments before. I just took a lot of deep breaths when I went to the plate and I prayed to kind of calm myself down and not get too hyped up."

Stokes, who will be a freshman at Calvert Hall this fall, had never left the country before the tournament, so competing against players from different countries was a different experience. The tournament was mostly comprised of South American teams, creating a language barrier between many of the players.

But the chance to compete with elite players from around the country was an experience he said he will never forget.

"It was a great feeling," Stokes said. "It's real good to see [USA] on your chest. Knowing you're one of the top players in the country, it's a great feeling."

colin.stevens@baltsun.com

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