Three Manatee High baseball players sign with SCF

Hurricanes Kelly, Lee, Souris sign to play baseball at State College of Florida

jlembo@bradenton.comJanuary 17, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Building a pipeline from Manatee High to State College of Florida wouldn't take long at all.

Especially if you asked the school's baseball coaches for help.

Wednesday afternoon in Manatee's media center, three more Hurricanes signed to play baseball with SCF, one of the country's most tradition-rich junior-college programs.

Infielder Tyler Souris, outfielder Danny Lee and pitcher Scott Kelly made their decisions official and will join former Canes Chase Sandberg, Bryan Voelkl and Trevor Beeman next fall.

"We see them all the time down at the (Sandlot at) 5 Tools," Souris said, referring to the baseball facility run by Manatee coach Dwayne Strong, "and we talk to them a lot, and they love it (at SCF)."

The Manatees own state records for JUCO World Series appearances (10), state championships (13) and state tournament berths (42) and have produced more than two dozen major leaguers, including current Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington.

The best part, however, is the school is located right in Bradenton.

"It's perfect," Kelly said. "I don't have to pay to go out of state, or pay for room and board or anything."

Playing at SCF is a family affair for Lee: Three of his uncles played there, including Derek Lee and Robin Jennings, both of whom made the majors, and his father worked as an assistant coach.

"I had a couple of other options, but this was one of the big ones, just because of the family history," Lee

said. "I was out there all the time, and I remember going out there when I was little. It was kind of destined to be, I guess. Like I said, I had a few more options, but this was one of the better ones I had. ... I like the small atmosphere, and they've got a good team."

Manatees coach Tim Hill II was in attendance Wednesday, as were the players' parents and friends.

Also there were Manatee's younger players, who filled out two rows of chairs inside the media center.

As Lee, Souris and Kelly signed their letters, Strong posed a question to his players.

"Who's next?" he said.

"That's why I invited my young guys to see this -- I want them to know what that atmosphere is like," Strong said. "And what it's all about, and changing the environment and the culture and to get these to guys to know and feel if you work hard too, you can have the same opportunity."

Strong said about 17 players have signed to play in college during his five years at Manatee.

"I can't get enough of that," he said. "It's just a credit to all the work we've done and a credit to the work they've done and the time and the sacrifice and commitments they made.

"We're trying to build some men, as well, but we're trying to build the culture here that if somebody is looking for somebody, they know they can come to Manatee High and find a player or two."

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