Manila catcher plays in Heartland Classic
Luke McLaughlin of Manila recently played in the Heartland Classic Tournament in Muskogee, Okla.
Luke started playing baseball at a young age making his debut on the local t-ball team and has never lost his enthusiasm for the game. He came up through Little League, Babe Ruth, Senior Babe Ruth and still plays in the summer program as well as catcher for the Manila High School baseball team.
He started his high school career in the ninth grade as third baseman moving to catcher his sophomore and junior year. Luke will be a senior at MHS this fall.
A coach from Connors State College in Warner, Okla., saw the Manila team play in the Regional Tournament. He sent five try-out invitations to members of the high school team. Luke was the only one from Manila who decided to try out.
He and his parents, Mac and Aimee McLaughlin, traveled all night to Oklahoma the first of June where Luke participated in the try-outs. He made the Red/White team joining team members from several states.
The All Star Showcase Tournament was held June 26-29 with 18 teams participating at Bacone College in Muskogee.
"It was a good experience," Luke said. "I met guys from all over. There was one team there from Canada. There were also a lot of coaches and scouts attending the tournament."
The McLaughlin family turned the tournament into a family vacation.
Luke said he appreciates his parents and his sponsors for giving him the opportunity to participate in the tournament. Sponsors include Thomas Shumate of Osceola Waste, Nelson Benson Farms, D&K Feed and Hardware, and Phyllis McLaughlin.
Luke said he was glad he decided to go to the tournament and would gladly do it again.
"It was a learning experience and I met a lot of coaches and players," he said. "I enjoyed watching the other teams play. I had some very good coaches at the tournament. I have had good coaches throughout the years."
Luke is looking forward to his senior year at MHS and especially the baseball and basketball season.