This summer has been a busy one for many local athletes, including Williamsburg baseball player Jake Harrison.
Harrison, who just recently finished up his junior season with the Yellow Jackets, has been competing for the Knoxville Stars travel baseball team for the past several weeks. He has played in many different locations during that time, including Atlanta, GA, Charleston, SC and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He also got the opportunity to play in Sevierville, TN at the home of the Smokies minor league baseball team.
Harrison, who was the only Kentuckian on his travel team’s roster this summer, said that he has picked up a lot of knowledge about the game since school let out back in the spring. “It has definitely been a good experience,” he said. “I got to meet a lot of new people, and what I experienced was a step up in terms of game play. I got the chance to play against a lot of Division I commits.”
Competing in summer leagues and tournaments is a great way for young ball players to get noticed by college scouts, which is something that Harrison is very excited about. With aspirations of one day playing at the next level himself, he realizes that he has to continue to work hard each day. That means his job is never really done, even when the school season ends.
“I have to continue trying to get better,” said Harrison. “I want to help make baseball a sport that Williamsburg is well-known for. I want to be a good role model to younger players, and help to build up our program.”
“This has been his dream ever since he was little,” said Yellow Jackets’ Head Coach Bryan Hopkins of his star catcher’s desire to play baseball at a high level. “He has worked extremely hard to get to where he is, and he’s really done well. The main thing is that he puts the work in.”
And Harrison isn’t the only Jacket who has been honing his skills on the diamond this summer. Pitcher Cameron Bowen, who just finished his sophomore season, has also been very active, competing as a member of the Kentucky Elite team. Hopkins said that he is happy to see his players beginning to get these valuable opportunities, and he hopes to see more follow in their footsteps in the future.
With athletes like Harrison and Bowen catching the attention of college scouts due to their exploits during the school season and beyond, it is evident that the WHS baseball program is headed in the right direction. After several seasons of struggling inside the 50th District, the Jackets are now beginning to turn that around. Just this past season they picked up two huge wins against district opponents when they topped Whitley County on April 17, and South Laurel on April 25.
In order to build on that progress, Coach Hopkins and company will be counting on continued strong leadership from the likes of Harrison and Bowen. The hope is that once younger players begin to see their hard work and dedication paying off, the attitude will become infectious.
“We want to put more marks in the win column,” Harrison said when asked about goals for his senior season in 2018. “As for me, I just want to continue doing my part to change the culture, and represent Williamsburg baseball the best that I can.”
Highlights for Harrison this summer included hitting a grand slam in his very first at-bat during a game in Nashville, TN, and a walk off hit that gave his team a win in Atlanta.