When Parker Schmidt takes the field Saturday at UNLV’s Wilson Stadium, he may need a moment to compose himself.
That’s all it’ll take, a moment, to appreciate another appearance in the American Legion state baseball tournament, after surviving the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival.
Schmidt, a member of the top-seeded Las Vegas Aces, was at the concert with roughly 25 friends and family members, including teammate Zac Czerniawski, when they began hearing bullets whiz by them a mere “10 or 15 feet away.”
“I think about that everyday,” Schmidt said. “It changed my whole life, that night. I went and saw everyone I knew, gave them a hug, told them I loved them – everything changed.”
Schmidt, who will be a senior at Desert Oasis this fall, said that night has continued to help motivate him for this year’s state tournament.
Led by Schmidt, Chaison Miklich, Jason Sharman and Josh Sharman, the Aces have their sights set on getting back to the title game, after losing to Basic in the final last season.
“We talk about it everyday,” said Schmidt, who is second on the team with a .441 average, while leading the team with 60 hits. “Last year left a sour taste in our mouth so we’re trying to get back there and go as far as we can.”
Both Miklich and Schmidt said that loss to Basic has made the team work harder for a title this summer.
“This team is a lot more mature this year,” said Miklich, who leads the team with a .444 batting average. “Last year it was more about having fun, this year is about taking care of business. We really want to go far. We don’t want this to end. I feel like we can go pretty far this year.”
Miklich, who has belted 16 home runs this summer, said he didn’t exactly have the spring he wanted during high school ball, so one thing he’s focused on is being patient in the box.
“I was swinging at pitches that weren’t mine, but this summer I’ve waited on that one pitch,” Miklich said.
Miklich also said he feels the team has a stronger pitching staff that will be able to play a bigger role in closer games, including Josh Sharman, who was 6-0 with a 3.10 ERA during the regular season.
“We have a lot of talented guys and we want to go win a state championship, maybe even a regional and get to the World Series,” Schmidt said. “We’re really hungry and that drives us.”
American Legion State Tournament
Game 1 — Liberty vs. Coronado, 8:30 a.m.
Game 2 — Basic vs. Silerado, 11 a.m.
Game 3 — Centennial vs. Reno, 5:30 p.m.
Game 4 — Desert Oasis vs. Legacy, 8 p.m.
Game 5 — Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 3, 8:30 a.m.
Game 6 — Loser Game 2 vs. Loser Game 4, 11 a.m.
Game 7 — Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 3, 5:30 p.m.
Game 8 — Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 4, 8 p.m.
Game 9 — Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 7, 11 a.m.
Game 10 — Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 8, 5:30 p.m.
Game 11 — Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, 8 p.m.
Game 12 — Winner Game 9 vs. Loser Game 11, 5:30 p.m.
Game 13 — Winner Game 10 vs. winner Game 11, 8 p.m.
Game 14 — Winner Game 12 vs. Winner Game 13, 6 p.m.
Game 15 — Winner Game 12 vs. Winner Game 13, 8:30 p.m., if necessary