Mack Estrada, a 17-year-old Valrico native, pitched in with the Perfect Game National Showcase at Tropicana Field at the end of July. The right-hander was the only ballplayer selected from Polk County to play in the event and struck out six batters in his two innings on the bump.
“The mound was a lot nicer than some complexes [I’ve played at],” Estrada joked about playing at Tropicana Field. “… I wasn’t really stressed out. It was just like another day pitching.”
Estrada complimented his opponents, saying they were tough competition, despite the stellar innings he pitched in the game.
With hopes to play in the majors, Estrada started his baseball journey early, playing for FishHawk Youth Sports Association while attending Bevis Elementary in Lithia. He met Joey Eischen, a longtime friend of Estrada’s father and retired MLB pitcher who took the young athlete under his wing when he was just 9 years old. Since then, Eischen has been Estrada’s pitching coach, teaching him the fundamentals that have stuck with him as he pursues a college career.
“I feel like I’m surrounded by guys that were up to that caliber, but he does stand out I would say,” Estrada mentioned about being coached by Eischen.
Estrada joined Lakeland Christian School and played on its varsity baseball team since his sophomore year. He realized he wanted to pursue baseball as a career when he started getting interest from schools in his first year on the varsity squad.
The University of South Florida commit also has played varsity football since eighth grade. Playing in both sports has allowed him to stay in shape throughout the year, dedicating himself to football in the fall and baseball in the spring.
“It gets you into the best shape you can physically be in, and it helps you be a lot more mentally tough because you are put in a lot tougher situations,” Estrada said about how football has helped his performance as a baseball player.
Estrada plans to continue to play both football and baseball in college after his senior year at Lakeland Christian School.
For more information on the Perfect Game National Showcase, visit www.perfectgame.org.