7-17-2017 USSSA Sports Xtra Story
ASHLAND - The 2017 USSSA Central Region teams feature two mid-Missouri boys with two similar paths, and a story of perserverance and friendship.
Columbia's Tyler Stine and Ashland's Carter Salter each made a Central Region U-12 team, and will compete at the 2017 USSSA All-American Showcase in Orlando, Florida in August.
Both Stine and Salter were surprised they were picked at first.
"I didn't think I was at that level yet, but I still had a good feeling I was going to make it, and when I got the call I thought I was getting pranked," Stine said.
"I was just excited, I didn't believe it at first because I had been trying for a long time," Salter said.
The story of Salter and Stine goes all the way back to when the two played in the same U-9 league.
Two years ago, both tried out to make a USSSA Central Region team, and neither of them did. The result was the same last year.
"[Not making the team] made me want to keep pushing harder and try to make it again," Salter said. "And eventually I did."
Going through the experience of trying out together the first two years helped the boys the third time around.
"Knowing each other, having someone to play catch with, that made them a little more comfortable to try out rather than just it being a bunch of strangers," Salter's dad Stacy said.
Their friendship didn't just help the two be more comfortable on the ball field. It also gave each of them a bar to reach for when working on their game.
"If you want to succeed in sports, you need to have that measuring stick that you can go 'ok, I'm right about here, but I need to be right about here, so what is that going to take'," Stine's stepdad Josh Koch said. "'I see what this guy's doing over here, he's working a couple extra hours at night, he's out in the back yard, well maybe I need to start doing that.'"
Now, the story of two friends has turned into a story of two baseball families making plans to travel to the All-American Showcase.
"To find out they both made the team this year, and us knowing them in the past, it's kind of neat to watch," Stacy Salter said.
While Stine and Salter both made the all american games, they will actually be playing on different teams.
Stine will play on the Central Region "American League" team, and Salter will be on the "National League" team.
The games run Aug. 6 through the 12th.