Laydin Andrews Brings the Heat at the National Provincial Championships
Pitcher Laydin Andrews became the first rural Mass participation; Opportunity and access; Development and growth (MOD) Centre baseball player to make a national team. He was selected for the 15-and-under South African team that will travel to the World Cup in Mexico in August 2014. His team came third in the National Provincial Championships (NPC) held in Durban from 29 April to 3 May 2014.
“I didn’t expect to make the team, so I was shocked when they called my name. I felt that I had pitched well in the tournament but it was still a big surprise,” he said. Laydin’s grandmother Beatrice, who is his primary caregiver, said that she felt something special was going to happen during the tournament. “We prayed for Laydin every day while he was away on tour. I just know he will make a success of anything he puts his mind to because he works so hard at achieving his goals,” she said.
What makes his success even more remarkable is the fact that the NPC was his very first exposure to tournament play. MOD programme curriculum advisor Easlen September says Laydin’s success is due to his exceptional work ethic. “He is the first person at training and the last to go. He is always asking the coaches if there is anything he can do before he leaves. He has a passion for the game and is a strong but quiet leader.”
Laydin, from Worcester, was one of the first learners to attend a MOD Centre when one opened at De Tuinen Primary School in 2010. At that time, the school had been playing in the Boland Baseball Schools league. It became a baseball focus school in 2012. Laydin’s true ability came to the fore after September was placed in the Cape Winelands to develop the game. “Laydin started improving his game little by little. During Sharp centre focused training I saw when we moved him to pitcher that he started to come into his own,” said September.
Laydin has made it his mission to make it to the Major Baseball League to play for his favourite team, the Boston Red Sox. He sees the World Cup in Mexico as one step in a long journey. “I want to learn as much about the game as possible in Mexico. I’m also working hard so that I can increase my strikeout rate.”
Paul Bell, MOD Programme curriculum developer and former professional baseball player for the Milwaukee Brewers, says Laydin’s work ethic could give him a chance of playing professional or college baseball. “He needs to improve his pitching velocity if he wants to increase his strike out rate and that means that the MOD programme coaches have to support him. A comprehensive programme needs to be set for him to help his physical and mental progression,” said Bell.