Sports

Local teen tapped for NTIS

By From page A11 | August 23, 2017

Drake Bicknell, 14, is traveling to North Carolina this week to take part in the National Team Identification Series with only 14 other players from Northern California in his age division. Courtesy photo

El Dorado Hills resident and Jesuit ninth-grader Drake Bicknell is one of 14 Northern California baseball players selected to play in his age division in the National Team Identification Series (NTIS) at the USA Training Facility in Cary, North Carolina Aug. 24-27.

There will be 16 national regions represented at the series. The Northern California region Drake represents spans from Fresno to the Oregon border, his mom Melissa Bicknell said.

This is Drake’s second year traveling to North Carolina for the experience. Last year his team went to the championship game, ultimately taking home the silver medal. “I’m hoping they do really well this year, maybe even better,” Melissa said.

To qualify again for the experience, earlier this summer Drake, 14, stood out among approximately 250 other players in Manteca at one of many NTIS tryouts. Drake was selected from there to participate in an all-star game in July at the University of San Francisco and was ultimately one of 14 players invited to represent Northern California at the NTIS.

Depending how well players do in North Carolina, 12 will be selected for the 2018 15U national team trials, taking place next summer. “It’s cool that he gets to know kids from all over the place and to see where it takes him,” Melissa said of the opportunity.

Drake said he looks forward to experiencing NTIS again. “My favorite parts last year were the process and getting to play among the best competition in the United States,” he said. “I love playing the game and working to pursue my dream of becoming a Major League Baseball player.”

Drake started playing for El Dorado Hills Little League when he was 6 years old and now plays for Hard 90. He plays multiple positions, including second base, third base and catcher. He is on the NTIS roster as a utility player.

He said he roots for the San Francisco Giants and his favorite all-time player is Buster Posey.

A coach who runs the NTIS tryouts recently invited Drake to play in the Dominican Republic with its MLB team this September.

“He’s stuck with it and has tried so hard,” Melissa said of her son’s passion for the game. “He’s put in a lot of work.”

For more information visit playnctb.com/usa-baseball-ntis.

Julie Samrick

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