As Daniel Cole pitched his way to District 8-5A Newcomer of the Year honors last season, besides his teammates — always the first ones Cole credited after his victories — Cole gave a majority of the credit for his early success to the fact he had always played up before arriving at Harker Heights last year.
This summer, Cole has continued to ply his craft on the travel circuit as a member of the 15U Austin Banditos, a team the sophomore has played for the past two seasons.
Cole and the Banditos were in San Marcos last weekend and in Fort Myers, Fla., the previous weekend to compete in the Perfect Game 15U BCS Finals.
It wasn’t the first time Cole has traveled out of state to compete.
He said he competed at an international tournament at the Wide World of Sports Complex when he was younger that his team went on to win.
Cole experienced similar success in his latest trip to Florida.
Cole won the only game he pitched this go-round, allowing just six hits in a complete game with 10 strikeouts as his team rallied to defeat the North Georgia Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes went up 2-0 in the first inning, but the rust from two weeks between games, ultimately, didn’t hurt Cole and the Banditos.
“We just had to come out, shake the cobwebs off,” Cole said.
For Cole, the trip to Florida was just the latest in a summer full of competition, all aimed at improving his game.
In June, Cole traveled to Omaha, Neb., for a camp in which he continued that process under the tutelage of former professionals.
“I picked up a lot of the things there from former MLB players and former MLB coaches and college coaches,” Cole said. “And I just learned a lot there, and I’ve been working hard at those things trying to improve to come back next season and be a lot better person and a lot better player.”
And that would be bad news for District 12-6A opponents next season.
But in the meantime, Cole continues to work at the game that made him the Newcomer of the Year in 8-5A last season — one he hopes will be even better next season.