By Kelsie Hoitomt
FLORDIA — Mitchell Hurtgen, a junior at Glenwood City High School, was one out of three athletes from Wisconsin selected to play ball in Florida over the Christmas break.
There were a total of 114 players chosen from around the United States and Canada.
Mitch has been playing baseball since he was about four years old. He started off playing catch in the back yard with his older brother Matt and once in a while he was even able to participate in practices with the older kids.
Then in third grade, Mitch started on the in-town baseball league and he played against the other third graders as well as fourth, fifth and sixth graders. It was during that year that he also began pitching.
Mitch has continued to play since then and now as a high school student, he is all over the field. He has played every outfield position as well as shortstop, catcher and more frequently, pitcher.
His love for the game is what set him on the road to Florida. It all started in the summer of 2013 when he went to a baseball camp in Minnetonka, Minnesota.
After that we got an email from Baseball Factory telling us he was eligible to go to the Under Armor Christmas Classic Baseball Tournament. All he had to do is raise $3000.
With that, Mitch sent out a letter to friends, family, and local businesses asking for donations. The outpouring of support allowed Mitch to quickly raise the money for his once in a lifetime trip.
The money he raised was only to pay for his participation however, so the next step was to figure out how to get him down south.
Mitch’s family decided to make the journey with him so his parents, Cindy and Dave and brothers, Matt and Marcus all flew down on Friday, December 19th.
Once there, it was all business and no play for the Hurtgen family. They landed, settled in and the next day Mitch was sent off.
“We dropped him off on Saturday, December 20 at 11:00 a.m. and picked him up Tuesday, December 23 at 2:00 p.m.,” said Cindy.
The tournament itself was held at the Pirate City baseball complex, where the Pittsburgh Pirates have their spring training in Bradenton, Florida.
The players had an itinerary for every day, all day long, from breakfast at 6:00 a.m. until lights out at 10:30 p.m.
They played a three game pool and then the final game on Tuesday was a bracket. Mitch played every infield position and was able to get on base a few times too. He pitched two innings in the third game also.
If they were not playing a game they were either batting in cages, weight lifting, running, or working on defense.
Mitch thought it was a great experience and it is something that will look good on college applications.