National preseason All-American Deerfield shortstop Harris Webb hit over .400 the last two years and stole more than 30 bases in that span, including 18 last year. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — It took a few seconds to sink in, but Harris Webb, a kid who is quick on his feet and even quicker turning a double play, knew just what to do when he heard the news that he had been chosen to play in the Under Armour Preseason All-American Tournament in Tucson, Ariz.
“I was kind of shocked. I was like, ‘Whoa!’ I had to let it sink in, but it was a pretty quick, ‘Yes,’ ’’ said Webb, a senior shortstop at Deerfield-Windsor, who found out recently that he had been selected for the prestigious series of games.
The news came in a letter.
“My dad got the letter and he told me,’’ Webb said Thursday. “A friend of mine, Eric Lee, who plays for Tiftarea, had already gotten a letter and he told me he was going to play in the game. But I never thought I would get a letter. I was shocked, very shocked.’’
The games are Jan. 18-20 at the Chicago White Sox spring training facility in Tucson and will feature some of the top high school players from around the country.
Webb is ready — and anxious.
“I’m pretty nervous,’’ Webb said. “There are going to be guys out there going to the top colleges and guys who will be (drafted in the big leagues). It’s a whole new level.’’
Deerfield baseball coach Rod Murray said Thursday he isn’t worried about the way Webb will play.
“He’ll be fine,’’ Murray said. “Sooner or later it will turn into a baseball game, and he’ll be fine. We’re proud of him and we’re excited for him. He shouldn’t be nervous. Once he gets out there and they start playing baseball, he’ll be just fine. He’s got a lot of ability.”
Webb is special on the diamond. He has hit over ..400 for the last two seasons and has stolen more than 30 bases, including 18 last year as a junior. He knows how to handle the bat, how to put the ball in play and rip hits all over the field.
“He’s a thermostat player,’’ Murray said. “He sets the thermostat for the rest of the team. He was our leadoff hitter when he was a sophomore and he hit in the No. 2 spot for us last year. He’s at the top of the order, up top setting the temperature for the rest of the team.’’
Webb is a human web-gem in the field, making tough plays look easy at shortstop and making plays that take away your breath and take away hits from opponents.
“We like it when they hit the ball to him,’’ Murray said with a smile. “He’s got soft hands and a very accurate arm and real good feet around the bag. He’s a solid baseball player with a lot of character.
“And he’s one of those guys who you want in your dugout and in your locker room. He has a lot of savvy for the game, about getting on base and getting a lead and a good jump. He almost never gets caught stealing.’’
Webb has loved baseball since he started playing on competitive traveling-league teams when he was 11, spending most of his summers competing against some of the top young players in this part of the country. He played last summer for a the rising senior “Elite Team” in Atlanta, which played in Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina.
“He’s a grinder,’’ Murray said. “He works hard. He has spent a lot of time on traveling teams, He practically lived in Atlanta last summer. He has put in a lot of time and hard work, and it’s nice to see someone get rewarded for their work.’’
The Under Armour Preseason All-American Tournament has produced major leaguers, like Mets All-Star third baseman David Wright, and college and big league scouts will be at the game.
Webb, who has talked to some small colleges in Georgia about a possible scholarship, hopes he performs well and his stock goes up.
“I hope so,’’ Webb said. “You’re playing against the top dogs. I’m looking forward to it.”