Southside athletes are having a big impact nationally and internationally. The Tampa Bay Rays’ first round draft pick, 2018 Roncalli graduate Nick Schnell, begins playing this week for the Gold Coast Rays, the major league team’s Rookie League affiliate in Port Charlotte, Fla.
The season began Tuesday and concludes in late August. After discussions with family, Schnell signed with Tampa Bay for a signing bonus over $2 million. The Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year had signed a NCAA grant-in-aid to play for the University of Louisville long before the draft. Schnell, a center fielder at Roncalli, hit .535 and slammed 15 home runs a senior. He is the third recent Southside baseball player to be drafted. Record-setting hitter Cameron Perkins of Southport was drafted in the sixth round in 2012 by Philadelphia. He appeared in 42 games for the Phillies last year and later was picked up on waivers by Seattle. He is an outfielder, hitting .293 for Tacoma in the Pacific Coast League. In 1996, Center Grove standout A.J. Zapp was drafted in the first round, 27th pick, by Atlanta. Zapp played for three different AAA minor league teams and retired after the 2006 season.
On the international level, Center Grove senior Trayce Jackson-Davis helped lead the U18 USA basketball team to a gold medal in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship last week in Canada. The team outscored six opponents 687-391. The 6-10 standout scored 41 points and grabbed 21 rebounds during the week. He scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds against Ecuador in the quarterfinals and blocked two shots Saturday in the gold medal game against Canada.
A third Southside star, 6-3 Caitie Baird of Perry Meridian, is on the U.S. Women’s Junior National volleyball team competing this week in Mexico. The champion qualifies for the 2019 FIVA Women’s U20 Championships.
Baird, the only Hoosier on the team, is an outside hitter who plays all over the court for the Falcons and the Circle City Volleyball Club. She had 497 kills and 295 digs last year for the Falcons under first-year coach Jennifer Gandolph Hawk. She helped the club team earn a bronze medal in the 2015 USAV Girls Junior National Championships and was named all-tournament.
Baird is a three-sport athlete who plays basketball and qualified for the 2017 state finals in high jump. Her sister, Cassie, played volleyball at the University of Denver and brother Dustin plays baseball at Brown University.