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DeWitt selected to play in All-American Game in June

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Blake DeWitt is presented a jersey and visor by Sportslink representative Tim Sanfratello.
SIKESTON - High School baseball followers in Southeast Missouri are very familiar with the exploits of Sikeston's Blake DeWitt.

The senior has been terrorizing teams with his bat and his arm for the last four years, so any acclaim DeWitt gets in the area doesn't come as a shock.

But when national attention comes, it's bound to open some eyes.

It happened.

On Wednesday DeWitt was given an honor few even dream of. That being named an All-American. And not one of these All-American nominee awards. But an actual All-American.

DeWitt will compete in the nationally televised All-American Baseball Game on June 7 at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, N.M. The game is set for 8 p.m. central time and will be shown on Fox Sports Net.

"It's a credit to what Blake has represented and the work he's put in and the talent he has," said Sikeston head coach Kevin Self. "There are a lot of kids that have talent, but you have to be dedicated to that sport to be able to get to where he's at and put himself in this position. He's probably far exceeded any athlete we've had here at Sikeston. You talk about all the great athletes we've had here, I've never seen a higher award given to another Sikeston athlete."

DeWitt, a two-time first team all-stater, is among 35 players chosen nationwide to compete in the game.

From among those top 35, one will be selected as the National Player of the Year, as well as a Game MVP. The National Player of the Year Award will be presented to the All-American at an awards ceremony during game weekend and Game MVP will be presented on the field immediately following the game.

The 2nd Annual All-American Baseball Game features the nation's premier Major League and college prospects. It's modeled after the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and the McDonald's All-American Basketball Game.

The baseball game will showcase players in a classic East vs. West matchup following the first day of the MLB draft.

Last year's inaugural game saw six players selected in the first round of the MLB draft and several others in the second and third rounds.

"As it gets bigger we're looking to get a title sponsor and becoming a bigger game much like the McDonald's game and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which was televised on NBC," said Tim Sanfratello, a representative of Sportslink, Inc., producers of the all-star game. "The football game is getting up to the level of what the McDonald's game is in notoriety around the country. So we hope to do the same with the All-American Baseball Game as the years go on."

DeWitt was announced as an All-American at the high school on Wednesday in front of family, friends and teammates.

Sanfratello presented DeWitt with a jersey and presented Self with a PlayStation2 and a copy of the game MLB2005, which, along with 989 Sports, is a sponsor for the game.

DeWitt led the Bulldogs to their third district championship in four years on Thursday with a 10-0 victory against Notre Dame.

In that game, DeWitt threw six shutout innings and allowed just four hits with eight strikeouts. He also went 4-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs.

He is currently batting .563 with 13 home runs, 47 runs scored and 42 RBIs.

Even with all the recognition he's getting, DeWitt has his eyes on the biggest prize in high school -- a state championship.

"It's nice, but still I just want a state championship," said DeWitt. "I've got to graduate with a state championship. Then all this stuff would mean a little extra I guess."

Self said his humbleness comes naturally.

"He keeps getting all these things and all these awards in baseball, but yet he's as humble as anybody you want to meet," said Self. "He doesn't want to bring attention to himself. He just wants to play baseball, and that's a credit to the character that he has. A lot of that is the way he was brought up."

Sanfratello said DeWitt was selected by Perfect Game, a scouting service for Baseball America magazine.

"They scout players year around at camps and in high school," said Sanfratello. "They scout and rank out players and give us their names and break them up into east and west for us." DeWitt, already a well-known commodity in Missouri, garnered national attention last summer when traveling with the St. Louis-based Midwest All-Stars.

Colleges started banging down his door before he settled for Georgia Tech.

With so many players in larger cities and bigger media markets, Self said the fact that DeWitt was selected from such a rural community makes it an even bigger honor.

"It's surprising that they could find him in our town, but a lot of that is due to the fact that he traveled last summer across the nation to the elite showcases where the elite players were at," said Self. "And he impressed a lot of people. He played 70 or 80 games and he was all over the country and produced. That's why he's getting this recognition now."