One selection show was about to make three baseball-crazed boys about as happy as they could be.
Geirean Hatchett, 12, Landen Hatchett, 9, and Trenton Miller, 11, will all represent Whatcom County and the entire Northwest Region as United States Specialty Sport Association (USSSA) baseball All-Americans in the USSSA All-American Games tournament in Orlando, Florida, July 31-Aug. 4.
The showcase tournament brings together the top 15 players from each age group to compete against top players from each of the eight regions.
Geirean was named to the 12U team as a pitcher and first baseman, Landen to the 9U team as an outfielder and pitcher and Miller to the 11U team as a pitcher and catcher.
The Northwest Region includes players from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Northern California.
All three boys participated in team tryouts May 16 in Tacoma, where they were evaluated by current and former scouts, college players and professionals.
While evaluators were looking at specific skills like pitching, hitting and fielding, the boys were more focused on the larger picture - giving it their all and trying to calm their nerves.
"I just tried to think about something comfortable," Miller said.
And what makes Miller comfortable?
Simply "just playing ball," Miller said.
Mother Jana Hatchett was sitting in their Ferndale home on May 30, watching the live selection webcast as Landen was in the backyard playing whiffle ball. Trent and Geirean, along with fathers Damon Miller and Bill Hatchett, were playing against each other at the Bellingham De Jong tournament at the Ferndale fields.
When the selections were announced, Jana Hatchett called her husband, who informed the Millers and his son Geirean that they were all headed to Florida.
Miller and both Hatchett brothers play in the local youth Cal Ripken league, a select baseball league for youngsters looking for a higher level of competition.
The thirst for competition and challenge was what drove Miller to go try out for the USSSA team, though he had to make a decision before he could go tryout: ferns or baseball?
The tryouts fell on a day where Miller's class was going to go on a field trip to learn about ferns, and for Miller, his father and his teacher, the decision was unanimously in favor of baseball.
For the Hatchetts, attending the tryouts was more about convenience than anything. They were heading to a baseball tournament in Tacoma and figured they would try out because they were in the area, Bill Hatchett said.
"I sat both boys down and told them that there were going to be a lot of good players there," Hatchett said. "We were just going for the experience."
That experience has turned into much more than just the day-long tryout, as both Geirean and Landen were recognized as one of the top two performers for their age group by the evaluators.
All three boys work under the coaching of Brandon Hunt, coach of the traveling Cascade Crush baseball teams and owner of Inside Pitch training center in Bellingham.
Hunt works individually with each player, using strength and agility exercises to develop a base for each player's natural ability to grow.
Both Hatchett brothers bring considerable size with their skill set. Geirean, at 12, is 6-feet tall, weighs around 190 pounds and has been clocked at 73 miles per hour with his fastball, equivalent of what about a 90-mph fastball looks like to major league hitters.
"[Geirean] is one of the most powerful 12-year-olds I've ever worked with, and I work with him to develop hip and core strength to help him control his body," he said. "When he's on he's on and kids can't touch him."
Hunt said the brother's competitive attitude and the ability to switch mindsets sets them apart from the rest. The brothers will come to Inside Pitch with friends and family, picking on each other as rambunctious brothers do, Hunt said, but once inside the cages they get very serious.
"They show their emotions, which is not the best sometimes, but it shows that they care about what they are doing," Hunt said.
While most 11-year-olds would still be slumbering in bed at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday, Miller was hitting in the cages with Hunt to work on his swing before his Cal Ripken Washington State tournament game later that day.
"I swear he's been in here more than some of the [Bellingham] Bells players," Hunt said.
Coincidentally, both families are staying in the Worldmark, Orlando hotel, which, Trent Miller is quick to point out, has its own water park. He is looking forward to floating down the lazy river with the Hatchett brothers.
Both families see the trip to Florida as a great baseball experience for their young players, but, more so, view the trip as an extension of family time, not just about baseball, Damon Miller said.