WHITING | The nerves were present when Braden Niksich walked on to the mound at Oil City Stadium.
Just a 15-year-old sophomore pitcher for Hobart, Niksich had never felt what it's like to play baseball in front of Major League Baseball scouts. He got that chance Wednesday, pitching the fifth and sixth innings of the Midwest Professional Showcase for the Red team, which was defeated 8-3 by the Blue team.
"I did OK," said Niksich, who gave up three runs, two hits, three walks and struck out one. "I wish I could have done better. I was a little nervous coming out there."
Niksich was the only player from Indiana to participate. Other players from Illinois and Wisconsin comprised the field of the showcase, which also took place on Tuesday.
For Niksich to pitch against players he won't see during upcoming seasons with the Brickies, it will only serve as a benefit.
"This is really good for me to get this kind of experience, because I really want to play college baseball," he said.
Hobart coach Bob Glover Jr. was in attendance to watch Niksich pitch. He gave his young player some advice going into his two-inning appearance.
"I just tried to talk to him about being himself," Glover said. "You want to go out there and try to do the things that got you here in the first place. People recognize your talent and you want to go out there and be that guy who got invited here. If he's less nervous the next time, this will have been worth it. Next time, whenever that is, he'll be better equipped to deal with the nerves that go along with it, and he'll be OK."
Mount Carmel's Jeremy Houston, Caravan teammate Brandon Sanchez, Homewood-Flossmoor's Bryce Gray and Calumet City resident and Simeon player Tavaris Terrell rounded out the other local players.
Houston, a sophomore for the Caravan, said he didn't feel nervous coming into the event. It showed. He had a strong day at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a double, single and a walk.
Houston, who wants to follow in the footsteps of his brother Jerry, who will play for Oregon, knows how important events like these are.
"It's my dream, basically," he said. "I really want to play college baseball. I love it."