2018-01-11 / Front Page

Brandel selected for Team USA


EARNING HIS SPOT Houghton Lake’s Seth Brandel plays third base at the Team USA Junior Men’s National Training Team Selec­tion Camp in Clearwater, FL, the first week of January. Brandel learned last Friday he would represent Team USA as a member of the team. (Photo courtesy of USA Softball) EARNING HIS SPOT Houghton Lake’s Seth Brandel plays third base at the Team USA Junior Men’s National Training Team Selec­tion Camp in Clearwater, FL, the first week of January. Brandel learned last Friday he would represent Team USA as a member of the team. (Photo courtesy of USA Softball) Houghton Lake High School se­nior Seth Brandel will wear USA across his chest this spring as a member of the 2018 USA Softball Junior Men’s National Training Team (JMNTT).

After trying out for the fast pitch softball team last week, Brandel was notified Jan. 5 that he made the ros­ter.

The invitation-only tryouts were held Dec. 31 to Jan. 4 in Clearwater, FL. Brandel said he didn’t find out he made the team until last Friday, when an email announcing the team was sent to him.

His reaction?

“I was really excited. I ran up­stairs to tell my family,” Brandel said, adding his dad, Bill, started screaming.


Seth Brandel (Photo courtesy of USA Softball) Seth Brandel (Photo courtesy of USA Softball) Brandel was among 20 athletes chosen for Team USA, which will ultimately compete at the World Championships July 7-15 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada.

The team will represent Team USA during the spring season, play­ing in tournaments throughout the United States from Las Vegas to Utah to Houston.

A final roster of 17 athletes will be chosen from the training team to make up Team USA for the World Championships.

Brandel, the son of Bill and Becky Brandel and Tabitha and Jim Decker, said while he was nervous when he first arrived at the tryouts, by the end he had built up his confidence.

“I would have been pretty upset if I didn’t make the team,” he said.

He said the weather during the tryouts was cold, windy and rainy. He said about 50 players tried out for the 20 slots on the 19U team. The tryouts consisted of skill evaluations as well as nearly 10 games.

Brandel said the toughest obsta­cle at the tryouts was actually the un­seasonably cold weather in Florida.

“Trying to play in the cold [was the toughest thing]. The competition was good but nothing you couldn’t overcome,” Brandel said, adding ev­ery time he would hit a ball his hands would sting from the cold.

Brandel, who began playing or­ganized baseball in Houghton Lake Little League’s t-ball league, said he has been around the game of softball all of his life and has been playing baseball or softball for as long as he could remember.

“My dad always played fast pitch, so ever since I was little I was at the ballpark playing fast pitch,” Brandel said.

Brandel said he plays third base in fast pitch softball while he is a middle infielder in baseball.

He said fast pitch softball is more fast-paced with the bases, pitching mound and fence closer. He said the pitching in fast pitch softball makes it challenging as the ball can go up, down, left or right. At the junior level, the ball travels 70 to 75 miles per hour between the pitcher and the plate – which only measures 46 feet.

Brandel said hitting a fast pitch softball takes a different swing and a player has to be quicker in their swing and decision making.

A three-sport athlete at Houghton Lake High School, Brandel plays football, basketball and baseball for the Bobcats.

He said he is excited about the opportunity to travel as part of the team.

“Getting to see a part of this country I haven’t seen and then go­ing to Canada” is what Brandel said he is most excited about, aside from competing as part of Team USA.

Being part of Team USA is also an honor for the young athletes.

“Anytime you get to put those three letters across your chest it’s a big deal. That means everything,” said Team USA Head Coach Ty McKinney, who played on the 1997 Junior Team and made the men’s Team USA multiple times.

McKinney said Brandel held his own at tryouts.

“The kid can play,” McKinney said, adding Brandel not only had to convince him, but also had to con­vince a selection committee of seven that he should be on the team.

“He did what he had to do to make the squad,” McKinney said. “From what I’ve seen, he’s a great kid, a great athlete.”

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