Nobody on the face of the baseball planet outworks No. 23. Blake Sheppard, the hard hitting, defensive dynamo for the Troup National All-Stars, is a 5-day a week player. Sheppard is a maximum effort person. He is working when others are snoozing.
Sheppard is not a “show off.” He simply shows up for practice, and transfers that to the games. He leads.
He hits, and he defends. Sheppard smothers the ball on defense. He uses his body as a defensive blanket. He covers ground. He makes the tag. He digs the ball out of the dirt.
Sheppard saves his team time and again. He elevates his teammates to a new level. Sheppard also goes up to the plate with a game plan. He does have a .450 batting average in this all-star season this summer.
“I make contact. I try to drive runs in. I focus, and I go out and try my hardest,” said Sheppard.
He also brings an uplifting demeanor to the ball yard.
“I’m more of a team player. I am willing to get after it,” said this 12-yearold all-star.
For Sheppard, everything is about the team, No. 1, and winning, No. 2.
“You have got to help the team, and you need to be a team player. This summer I had a choice of going on a cruise or playing allstars. I chose all-stars,” said Sheppard, who played in the Dixie Youth State Baseball Tournament over the weekend in Roberta.
To most of his teammates he is known as “Blakey Pooh.” But to his coaches he is a player who knows how to turn the baseball charm on. Sheppard also knows how to get on with it, and the bottom line is winning.
Sheppard wins at practice, and he wins in the games. He is there for the long haul.
“Blake is a workhorse. He is one of the first guys here, and he is one of the last players to leave. Blake isn’t flashy, but he is a good ball player. He is a leader, and he’s deceptively quick,” said head coach Curt Longshore of the Troup National All-Stars.
Sheppard has Longshore in his corner and in the dugout. Sheppard is what every coach is looking for. No. 23 is someone that the coach can count on.
“Blake puts the team before himself. He is a wall over there (at first base). He is agile to be a big kid. He is the anchor of our infield,” said Longshore.
Sheppard can hit the little white ball, too. In the regular season, Sheppard knocked the Thanksgiving stuffing out of the ball for a .600 batting average