More than 1,000 youth baseball players from across the state participated in the 2019 USSSA All State Showcase.

The showcase, featuring the top players from across Arkansas, was held in Conway on Saturday. It’s the second consecutive year the annual showcase was held in Conway.

USSSA Baseball State Director Mike Schmidt said the all-day event allowed state’s top players to come together “to finish the year on a high note.”

The showcase is made up of the “better players” who competed in USSSA Arkansas events throughout the year. Coaches from opposing teams, umpires and tournament directors nominated the more than 1,000 boys who participated in Saturday’s showcase.

The event, Schmidt said, was a “fun way to end the season” and also served as a meet-and-greet. Players participated on teams made up of members from several other teams. Each team played two games, providing participants the opportunity to learn alongside coaches from across the state.

Having the players wear their typical uniforms while playing on mix-matched teams allow the event to look “like a true all star game,” Schmidt said.

Of those who was nominated as one of the states “best of the best” was 9-year-old Tyson James.

James is a member of the Conway Raptors and has played baseball for the past four years.

Megan James, who is Tyson’s mother, said her son truly loves the sport and that she enjoys watching him progress through the years. The 9-year-old’s father coaches the Conway Raptors.

The event allows USSSA participants to enjoy themselves instead of competing against one another, Schmidt said.

“For most of the season, everyone is so competitive and on edge. They’re just trying to win,” he told the Log Cabin Democrat. “During this [event], everyone is happy. It’s a stress-free, fun game. It’s our way of saying thanks.”

Organizers do not keep score during the event. Instead, players team up with players they have never met and work together to play ball and showcase their skills.

Nine-year-old Dylan Carey of Fort Smith was also nominated as one of the state’s top players to participate in the showcase.

Carey has played for the FSBA Baseball Academy for two years. His father, James Carey, said is son “loves baseball” and was “thrilled to be selected” to participate in the All State Showcase.

Schmidt said he is thankful for the support the program has received through the years as it soon turns 20 years old.

Many former Razorback players donate time to coach stop stay involved with the sport.

When the USSSA Baseball program was established in 2000, it had around 80 teams. Heading into the next season, there are 2,000.

Of the many teams within the program, 93 had players represented at the All State Showcase over the weekend.

Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at mhicks@thecabin.net.