Though Xavier Neyens is used to playing in high-level baseball tournaments, a one-week stint in North Carolina in September was special.
Neyens, a Mount Vernon High School freshman, got to participate in the USA Baseball U15 national team trials in Cary, North Carolina. Cary is home to USA Baseball and its national training complex.
While the infielder wasn't selected for the team, he returned from the competition with an impressive on-field performance, and with tips and tricks to help in the future.
"I took away a ton of stuff for hitting, for fielding, for base running," he said.
Neyens was one of 44 players selected for the trials, and one of two from Washington. He caught the attention of scouts at a USA Baseball event in Arizona.
While he's used to tough competition with teams such as Ferndale-based Cascade Baseball Club and his travel team, what Neyens saw in his five games in North Carolina was a different level.
"In travel ball, you'll usually see (pitchers throw) 80 to 83 mph, sometimes you'll see upper 80s. But at the trials everyone was upper 80s, minimum. And the hitters are unbelievable. You think pitchers are good, then hitters come up and you see good at-bat after good at-bat," he said.
In the five games, Neyens played each of the infield positions and also pitched. He said third base is probably his favorite position right now.
At the plate, he went 4-for-12 with four RBI. His stats included a 2-for-3 performance in the fourth game with two RBI and two runs scored.