The USA Baseball National Team Identification Series (NTIS) is a comprehensive program to help select the next USA baseball team. When it took place in North Carolina in September, an East Texas high school infielder got the chance to join this exclusive group. He said he wouldn't have been able to make it to that point without the will to fight back and love from his home.
Logan Durrett is a senior 3rd baseman at Hallsville High School. He might not have realized how much he would eventually love baseball, but when he was four, the sport already stuck with him.
"I picked it up from the start,” Logan said. “It just was a sport that seemed to be right for me.”
His mom, Skye Durrett, said she and her husband took notice when Logan started hitting it off a tee over their house before he even turned five.
"We knew that he had something special with baseball,” Skye Durrett said.
Logan grew up in a big baseball town – Tulsa, Oklahoma -- before his family moved to Lindale around 7th grade. They then moved to another big baseball town in Hallsville two years later.
"He had to fight his 9th grade year,” Skye Durrett said. “He had to make himself known again in an entirely new place. He wanted that challenge.
Logan not only fought but was voted MVP of his team with a bright sophomore year ahead of him. However, during the final tournament of freshman season, Logan said he knew instantly he had been seriously injured.
"I felt it,” Logan said. “It just popped."
An elbow injury forced Logan into undergoing Tommy John surgery – a surgery that can cost a player six months to a year of rehabilitation.
"We got in the car and I just broke down,” Logan said. “It’s hard wrapping your mind around something like that when you realize what had happened. It was a rough day. I cried almost the whole way home."
"It was really disheartening for him,” Skye Durrett. “We knew it would be a tough road.”
Not even being allowed to run for 6 months, Logan had to be patient in working his way back to third base. After almost a year of recovery, he started out as the team’s designated hitter – not playing in the field at all.
“DH-ing in high school is really tough,” Logan said. “You want to go out there and play your position and go compete.”
Logan eventually progressed enough to where he could play 1st base, a position that wouldn’t put as much pressure on his throwing arm. Logan said feeling certain tugs and strains in his arm due to built up scar tissue gave him pause at times.
“I know it’s just built up scar tissue, but whenever you hear any sort of pop in your arm, your first reaction is, ‘We’re going back through this all over again,’” Logan said.
Even though Logan is now back 3rd base, he is not back to one hundred percent, still feeling aches and pains from time to time.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs where I would say to myself, ‘Alright, I’m ready to get going,’ Logan said. “Then I go out there and throw for two weeks before it starts hurting again. I just have to remain patient and slowly build back up.”
Logan points to the many days before he was cleared to run or throw when he would get batting practice in with his dad
"The small things are what makes a great baseball player,” Logan said. “In here is where you get the small things right."
Logan also makes it clear he wouldn’t have been able to go through this arduous recovery without support from his home.
"I knew that my parents were behind me the whole way,” Logan said. “Having that and know it’s there makes a huge difference.”
After more than a year of recovery and slowly working his way back to the field for his junior year, Logan picked up right where he left off. During his junior season, he was named offensive MVP of District 15-5A and received a call in early August to try out for the 17U (17 and under) USA Baseball Team in Cary, North Carolina. Logan was one of only 17 Texas players from this age group to get an invitation.
"There's not many times where you're around that many good baseball players at any point,” Logan said. “I was just glad to get the chance to go. It motivated me even more.
Through switched schools and serious injuries, Logan had to find it within himself to come back strong. Even so, he said he wants to continue using an outward mentality focused on his teammates.
"He doesn't make it all about himself,” Skye Durrett said. “He makes it about his team. He's going to be trying to get his team to do it just as well as him."
"Fighting with the team,” Logan said. “Everyone has to do their job just as well as the next person to be successful."
Logan will know by mid-September if he made the cut with the NTIS selection process. By January, he said his sole focus will be on his senior year of Hallsville baseball.
(© 2016 KYTX)