Jacob Shempert Continues To Improve

Houston High School junior-to-be and Mississippi State 2012 commitment Jacob Shempert has been playing baseball non-stop this summer. First, he played for Team Mississippi in the Junior Sunbelt Classic in OK, and now he's playing for the Marucci Elite 16U team. While already one of the best players in the southeast in his classification, his game continues to improve thanks to his summer play.

When you have watched Jacob Shempert play in a game or two, the first thing you notice is how good of a hitter he is. Even pro scouts agree. One even told me, after watching Shempert hit the ball a couple of times during his Wednesday morning game at the 2010 WWBA 17U National Championship tournament being held this week in Marietta, GA, that he can really hit and he is so strong when hitting the ball. But while his hitting is what stands out, it appears that he also has the intangibles that separates the really great baseball players from the really good ones.

"My strengths are swinging the bat and playing since I was a small kid I have gotten so I know the game really well and (also that) I don't give up," said the left-handed swinging Shempert. "I also am always behind my teammates. I also don't like to lose but you have to learn how to handle losing. Everybody loses, it's part of life, but you have to keep pushing whenever you lose to help you win."

Shempert is always trying to improve himself whether it be during his high school baseball season or during the summer. Earlier in the summer he played in the Junior Sunbelt Classic, which is held in Oklahoma every summer. Currently, he is playing on the Marucci Elite 16u summer travel team, a team that faces mostly 17U travel teams. Both experiences have allowed him to face some of the toughest competition in the nation.

"The competition that we see with this Marucci team is top-notch competition, better than what I have faced before in my lifetime," said Shempert. "The only reason playing in Oklahoma may have been tougher is due to all the left-handed pitching that we saw. There was a lot of good competition in Oklahoma, but I had a lot of great teammates that kept us in games."

Playing the kind of competition that he has faced this summer will only help him when his high school baseball season rolls around next spring.

"Just being able to face that type competition will make it easier when I go back to playing school ball," said Shempert. "And playing this type competition also helps you learn the game. So, when you go back you don't have to learn about things, you can react."

You would think that with so many great players on the teams that he has played for this summer there might be a little jealously among the players. Not so says Shempert.

"Everybody on our team has bonded," he said. "We don't really have anybody that hangs out separate from the rest. We don't really have any tension on our team. We all have bonded. We are all teenagers and act alike so it is real easy for us to get along."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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