BAYSHORE GARDENS -- The State College of Florida baseball team entered the 2014 season with a No. 1 national ranking because of its talent.
But what has made the Manatees such an intriguing club this spring is something that can't be taught.
SCF (18-8) possesses considerable chemistry, and part of that comes from a large group of players from one school.
It's a luxury not every junior college program has.
But SCF head coach Tim Hill II has five players contributing this year from nearby Manatee High.
Danny Lee, Chase Sandberg and Trevor Beeman are position players, while Devin Pellien and Tyler Souris have helped SCF from the mound.
"I would love to have a team full of guys that have played together almost all their lives," said Hill II, whose team was still ranked No. 1 in the country in the latest Perfect Game rankings released March 11. "We've tried our best to keep the best local guys here. And we've done a pretty good job of that over the years, I think. ... We're fortunate because the area we live in is very good high school baseball. Not just Manatee High, but going down to Sarasota and even Venice. ... But to be able to have kids that have
played together like that for awhile, that's ideal."
Beeman, Sandberg and Pellien have known each other and played together since their Little League days at G.T. Bray park.
Lee played two seasons at Cardinal Mooney in Sarasota before wrapping up his career at Manatee, where played with Souris.
It's made the transition to junior college baseball that much smoother.
"It's always good to see a familiar face out here, someone you went out to practice with every day," Pellien said. "You have that special bond. You know when (Danny Lee) comes up, you know what he's going to do. You know he has a gun. You know Beeman is going to block everything. You know Chase is going to get base hits, and Souris is going to throw his (butt) off."
Beeman and Sandberg are sophomores, while the other three are freshmen.
Beeman is hitting .333 this season in 24 games, a year after playing behind Conner Hale (LSU) and Orlando Rivera (University of Tampa), both of whom had standout seasons in leading the Manatees to the state championship game in 2013.
"They are all very good players and I'm excited they decided to come here," Hill II said. "... This year, (Beeman) finally got a shot and he's made the most of it. Trevor has done a lot of good stuff for us."
Hill II said Sandberg is a versatile player for the Manatees, and he has done so by playing a variety of positions in the infield.
Lee has roamed the outfield this season for SCF, while sporting a .326 average and six steals.
Meanwhile, Pellien and Souris have given the Manatees some power pitching help. Pellien has racked up a 10.59 strikeout-per-game total, while Souris' mark in that category is 7.94.
Drawing from its tradition was a factor in landing some of the local players from Manatee High, too. Beeman said he and Sandberg can remember when they attended the summer camps offered by the program and joining SCF was something to which they aspired.