Josh Crump was sitting in the stands at District Three Stadium last Friday night watching Northwestern play Byrnes in football when he got the phone call from his mom.
It wasn’t a curfew reminder or a check on the game. Crump’s mother Dawn called to tell him he had made U.S.A. Baseball’s under-18 National Team pool.
“I was really into the game that was going on, the Northwestern-Byrnes game,” said Crump, “but after a while it just started to sink in and I was really excited about it.”
The Northwestern senior spent the summer trying out for the National Team Identification Series in Richmond, Va., and Cary, N.C. He represented the Mid-Atlantic region during a 15-team regional tournament in Cary, where he caught the eye of talent spotters. After turning in the fastest 30-yard dash time (3.4 seconds) in Cary, Crump was selected from the field of nearly 1,100 players nationwide to earn one of eight spots in the U-18 pool.
“He’s a very low-key person naturally,” said Herb Crump, Josh’s dad. “He’s calm, laid back, but on the field, it’s almost like he has that alter ego. But he was very excited just to have the opportunity to participate in this whole process.”
51 players throughout the various age groups were chosen from the tryouts, held all over the country. Eight of those, including Crump, went into the U-18 pool, giving them the chance to compete for a U.S.A. National Team spot against 30 to 40 other players who survived various other tryouts and talent-spotting trials. That event will be held in the summer of 2014.
“I will go to wherever the location is for the trials and just do whatever they need me to do for the couple of days, and then they’ll pick the team from there.”
The tryouts also put Crump in front of a slew of scouts, professional and college. Crump wasn’t concerned about the college scouts since he committed to Coastal Carolina before his junior season, but the pro guys did catch his attention, and vice versa. He’s already gotten scout team offers, which put high school players on fall showcase teams sponsored by actual Major League clubs.
Crump was an All-Area first team selection last spring after batting .405 with 34 RBI for the Trojans. After his sophomore season he decided to shirk the other sports he played, including football, to narrow his focus on baseball.
“Football’s great, it’s a great sport and I love it but I didn’t see myself going any further than high school,” said Crump. “I figured I could just focus on one and put all my effort into that.”
It wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s one that feels more justified after Friday night’s news.
“Growing up I did play other sports but as I got older I realized I did have to choose one,” said Crump. “The whole process of the whole USA baseball thing was just crazy. When I made it to the final rounds I felt more confident about making the team and being able to play for the U.S.”
With his college decision nailed down and full of the confidence from reaching the National Team tryouts, Crump is in a good place heading into winter workouts ahead of the spring high school season.
“Now I’m just focused on helping Northwestern win its first state championship,” he said. “I’m making that my main priority right now.”
Bret McCormick • 329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T