With a chance to play in the same city as the Baseball Hall of Fame, Leesville's Alex Brannan not only accepted the opportunity but ran with it.
Brannan was invited by a team in Florida to play in the Cooperstown Field of Dream Invitational in Cooperstown, New York, where he pitched and hit for the Ormond Beach Golden Spikes on August 23 - Sept. 1.
"The funnest part was getting to stay with my team the whole week I was there," Brannan said. "We got to bond. I led my team in home runs, and we got inducted into the American Youth Hall of Fame."
Brannan pitched 5.1 innings with 0.5 ERA and eight strikeouts. He also hit 4 home runs while hitting for a .438 average and 13 RBIs. He pitched and played third, second, and right field, and the Golden Spikes finished 3-4 for a 32nd-place finish out of 106 teams.
"It was like playing on a Major League field, but you're taking the positions of Major League players," Brannan said.
Brannan, an eighth grader at Leesville Junior High, previously lived in Daytona Beach, Florida, while his mother, Jeannie Hicks, was going to college before moving back to Leesville. The team needed another pitcher and remembered Brannan and asked him to make the trip. With the help of his church and supporters, he was able to make the journey.
"They called and asked in March of this year to see if we could make it happen," Hicks said. "So we did. With the help of friends, family and our church, we were able to go on the trip. This is an invitation-only tournament. It actually costs the team $30,000 to go, so they worked and fundraised all year long to go on this trip. They offered and we went. It was amazing to go and play in place where baseball originated."
Not only did Brannan get to play against some of the top players in the country, but the team was also inducted into the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.
"It was a lot more competitive than what you see locally and even on competitive travel teams," Brannan said. "It was a lot more difficult because it seemed as if those kids there trained a lot more and had better facilities. It was harder, but a lot of fun."
Brannan has big goals for his baseball career going forward, including college and beyond.
"My mom and I work on things I need to do, and we work until I get it right and can keep doing it right," Brannan said. "I want to go on and play college ball, and hopefully, go to the MLB and play for the Yankees."