Rayce Degraffenreid got a taste of the Little League World Series last month, playing in the stadiums that host the tournament while participating in a camp in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
At the Little League camp, a total of 180 players from across the United States and Mexico came to be instructed on the fundamentals of baseball and play games.
“It was just kind of fun being with a bunch of other like good ballplayers and just having fun playing around and stuff,” said Rayce, who’s the son of Josh and Cari Degraffenreid of Powell.
Over the six days, the kids played baseball for eight to 10 hours a day with two games per day and coaching by college-age players.
At the end of the camp, the top 30 players were selected, based on skill and performance, to play on one of two All-Star teams. Rayce was selected as one of those top players.
“When he played in that All-Star game he played with some phenomenal ball players. I mean, it was impressive; it was awesome,” said his father, Josh.
“The pitchers on the other team threw hard,” added Rayce.
The umpire for the All-Star game was the same official who umped the 2013 Little League World Series championship game between California and Japan.
During the camp, players got to hit the field at both Lamade Stadium, where the United States teams play during the series, and Volunteer Stadium, which generally hosts the international teams.
“It was really fun because their fields were like super nice; they were just taken care of very nicely,” Rayce said.
“It was an awesome camp,” added Josh. “The facilities were top notch.”
Rayce said he left the camp having learned fundamental skills about how to play the game of baseball — “how to play better, better stuff to work on and how to do stuff better,” he summarized — and with friends across the country.
During the camp, staffers from the player development business Baseball Factory created an official scouting report for each of the participants, including videos and statistics. The scouting report will help with Rayce’s dream of playing baseball in college; the sixth grader would even like to play at the professional level.
Not surprisingly, Rayce’s favorite sport is baseball, with the Diamondbacks and Rockies his favorite professional teams.
Rayce, 11, has been playing Little League in Powell for five years and would like to go back to the camp.
More about the Little League camp can be found at www.littleleague.org. The Little League World Series starts Thursday, Aug. 17.