What happens when you put a Harker Heights Knight on a travel team with five of his most bitter district rivals?
Trash talk — and plenty of it.
Tyler Torres said he has been playing travel baseball since he was 10 years old.
But this summer was the first time he played with the Waco Storm Elite.
“It was kind of an experiment,” the Heights junior said.
The reason Torres called it an experiment was because this summer was the first time the traditionally local team expanded to include players from as far as Houston and Laredo.
The team also had plenty of District 12-6A representatives. Torres played alongside Jared Pool, of Waco Midway, and a quartet of Belton players: Chase Sortor, Dustin Tish, Trent Stafford and Tanner Frick.
Despite playing with players from two of the teams that finished in front of Heights last season in the district standings, including nearby Belton, Torres was more than able to get along with his new teammates.
“It was pretty fun,” Torres said.
“We’re always talking trash to each other, ‘Oh, we’re going to beat you guys next year,’ ‘Oh, y’all aren’t going to beat us, blah, blah, blah.’ It was fun talking back and forth and talking trash.
“I’m looking forward to playing them next year during district.”
Of course, Torres didn’t just join the team to make new friends.
Torres said he felt like he was able to find a nice rhythm at the plate when the team competed at the USA Baseball Premier Junior Championship in Joplin, Mo., one of many stops the team has made this offseason.
“It was probably the best I’ve played in a long time,” Torres said.
Torres played out of position in left field, a change that didn’t bother him and, for the first time in a while, felt his play at the plate matched his play on defense.
“I was hitting the ball very well, I was scoring runners and making plays in the field,” Torres said.
“And then the game we actually lost I had our only two hits and drove in our only run.
“I was excited for myself.”
Torres said he hopes to improve most as a hitter heading into next baseball season.
And, coincidentally, it was playing with five of his biggest rivals, that he saw signs that he is doing just that this offseason.