Liberty Hill baseball’s Chandler Freeman wins World Championship
By KEITH SPARKS
Although it isn’t yet baseball season at the high school level, Chandler Freeman is still taking home MVP trophies and winning championships. On Monday, Freeman and the Elite Squad, a travel team based out of Florida, won the Perfect Game WWBA Underclass World Championship in Fort Myers, Florida.
Freeman hadn’t played with the Elite Squad before, but his reputation preceded him, and the team’s head coach reached out to him on Twitter to see if he’d be interested in helping the team out in Florida.
“He had actually seen me at a previous tournament, and he really liked what he saw,” Freeman said of his coach’s initial message. “This team is some of the best players in the state. They just kind of picked me up for the tournament and asked if I’d play third base and help out a little bit.”
Freeman did, in fact, help out at third base, and did some pitching, as well. In the quarterfinals, he pitched four innings, giving up only two hits and striking out seven batters while on the mound.
“It was an awesome experience, the whole thing,” he said. “The tournament was 200-plus teams from everywhere. We met up in Florida and, all in all, played a total of 10 games. It was a lot of fun.”
The Elite Squad went 9-1 over those 10 games, winning two of their first three in pool play, one of which took place on Thursday, Oct. 5, and the other two on Friday, before rattling off seven straight wins from Saturday through Monday en route to a World Championship.
The Elite Squad began the championship game with a 1-0 lead, but the opposing team, the Florida Burn 2019 Platinum, tied the game in the third. In the fifth inning, the Elite Squad hit back-to-back doubles, bringing a runner in to take a 2-1 lead. In the sixth, the Elite Squad hit a sacrifice fly to go up 3-1. Finally, in the last inning, Freeman got the opportunity to end the game with a pop-up to third base.
“The last out of the game, I was at third base, and a pop-up was hit to me,” Freeman said. “I was so excited. I caught the ball, then there was a dogpile on the mound. It was fun.”
Although he hadn’t played with the Elite Squad prior to the World Championship tournament, Freeman had played with a few of the players in previous tournaments. Despite a lack of experience playing with the majority of the team, Freeman said it felt like home from the minute he stepped on the field with the Elite Squad.
“Going in there with those guys, it felt just like home,” he said. “They made me feel like I was a part of the team, so it was really cool.”
Though the team did make him feel at home, Freeman admitted that he felt he had to prove himself to a certain extent before the team was sure he could play at a high level.
“I think a lot of the guys were unsure of who I was,” Freeman said. “They weren’t really sure of who I was as a ballplayer and as a person, but I think as the tournament went on, and they saw that I was able to help contribute to the team and be a good teammate, they warmed up to me really well.”
Freeman said the pool of more than 200 teams consisted of teams from all over the place, from California to Canada and back down to Florida.
“Teams came from everywhere,” he said. “Some came from as far as the West Coast, some from as far as New York, and actually a couple teams from Canada, as well.”