Hayden Skipper's 2019 high school season recently ended, but there's still plenty of baseball to play this summer. The rising senior was selected to join Team Tennessee for the upcoming Junior Sunbelt Classic in McAlester, Okla.
"I'm extremely excited about the opportunity," Skipper said. "I think it's a good measuring stick as to where I am with everyone else in the country and it's gonna be a great time and a great experience."
Skipper was the second Central High School baseball player ever selected for the statewide team. The only other was Peyton Meeker in the summer of 2013.
The team is made up of 20 players selected from across the state every year. Notable names that have played on Team Tennessee include MLB greats such as Mookie Betts.
"It says a lot about his character. Everybody knows he can play, everybody knows that he's extremely talented," Coach David Martin said. "But I'm a firm believer that it's his character that's carried him along the way and helped him make strides in this game."
A dynamic two-way player, Martin believed Skipper's skill on both the mound and at the plate would be an asset for this summer's squad. Skipper was also the No. 1 ranked left-handed pitcher in the state.
"I know we're all extremely excited and proud of him, but Team Tennessee also hit a home run with this pick," Martin said. "I think they got the right guy in there and he's definitely gonna make a difference on that team."
Skipper's first experience playing high-level national competition came in the summer of 2018. Selected as part of the 15-man Southeast region team, Skipper competed against 16 other teams in the Team USA tournament.
His experiences there put him in contact with Team Tennessee Coach Chris Parker, who is also head coach at Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville.
"We seemed to hit it off pretty well and I thought there was a possibility," Skipper explained. "Not a lot of people get this opportunity and I'm just trying to soak it up as much as I can right now. I'm just so blessed and humbled."
Team Tennessee will start to meet and prepare in the first week of June. This year's Junior Sunbelt Classic will run from June 7-12.
Skipper is looking forward to facing off against high-level competition from a variety of states. Team Tennessee last won the tournament in 2017 and Skipper is excited to see what they can do this year.
"Obviously we want to win the tournament," Skipper said. "We're just hoping we can do that again."