Raissa first noticed that trademark Garin Cecchini smile at a very early age.
"We have pictures of Garin when he was a little, bitty fella running to first base and he always had a smile on his face," said Raissa, a gifted athlete in her own right who played several college sports. "That is the one thing about Garin that is so different from a lot of kids, he always has a smile on his face. "
But looking the part and loving the game are not the only things that separate him from the rest.
"My main strengths are hitting for power and hitting for average," said Garin, who is one of just thirty-five high school players nation-wide to make the Team USA trials.
Raissa saw that natural swing early on.
"When he was a little fella, probably when he was about 4-years-old, he had that natural lefthanded swing like Ken Griffey who he loved," said Raissa. "And he tried to emulate him."
And he has obviously done a very good job of emulating him because numerous college coaches have come a-calling with scholarship offers in hand.
But the Cecchini's haven't let the sheer number of schools recruiting Garin cause them to forget the importance of the decision that they are about to make.
"We just want to make sure because this is a life-changing decision," said Raissa. "You make this decision once and that is it. If you change it, you have to sit for a year. And he is draft-eligible after his sophomore year. He needs to go where he can play early and play often."
So a plan was created based on the ever-changing landscape of college baseball recruiting.
"Now-a-days the kids hardly get the chance to take their five official visits because coaches expect kids to commit early," said Raissa. "We told our two sons to pick out 10 schools that they were really interested in and that we would make an unofficial visit to every one of them. And we've gone to all of the schools they were interested in. The next year we told them would be to get it down to five schools. And we've made the second trips to the five schools."
Garin named the five schools that made his final cut.
He explained what he likes about those five colleges, overall and individually.
"The SEC schools that I named all have great atmospheres and a lot of fans go to their games. And it's a lot more fun when fans go to your games. You always want to win, too. And all those schools win. That is the main thing.
"LSU is real close to home. That's a really good point. And their coaches are great and they really work with you.
"And Ole Miss, their coaches are amazing, too. My dad has known (Ole Miss head baseball) Coach (Mike) Bianco for a long time. It's ironic that he is recruiting me now.
"My dad actually knows UNC's (head baseball coach) Mike Fox, too. He actually coached camps with him.
"My visit to Mississippi State was awesome. They showed me around the whole campus. They are adding some stuff onto the stadium. They showed me how their fans react to the games.
"I like the weather at Stanford and I also like their tradition and history."
Raissa has made it a point to go with Garin on all his unofficial visits.
"I go on his visits because I'm a coach and there are questions that we need to ask and that we need answers to," said Raissa, who has coached baseball for twenty-four years. "And I'm also his support. If there is something that he forgets to ask I can ask. And if he wants to ask me questions after we leave, I can answer them."
And Garin couldn't be happier that his mom has gone with him on the visits.
"She has helped me a lot on the trips because she knows just as much or maybe even more than my dad," said Garin, currently ranked by PGCrosschecker.com as the 53rd best player in the class of 2010. "She's not your regular mom."
Garin, in keeping with his recruiting plan, will make his college choice in August.
"I am going to make my decision on August 18th," he said. "Players (who were drafted by Major League Baseball teams) have to make their (go pro or go to college) decisions on the 17th."
Keep it on Scout.com to find out which of the five schools will receive a commitment from this very talented and very likeable youngster when August 18th roles around.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.