Cenla star Tyler Early leads Team USA to gold medal at World Cup Qualifiers

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Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 7:58 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Tyler Early’s summer vacation will be spent a little differently than his classmates at Alexandria Middle Magnet.

The 11-year-old is traveling around the world with the 12U USA Baseball Team, competing against some of the best competition that the sport has to offer. Early returned home this week from Mexico, where he not only led his team, but his country, to the gold medal at the World Cup Qualifiers.

In that gold medal game against Venezuela, Team USA erased an 11-run deficit to complete the 29-28 win in what became the highest-scoring game in 12U national team history.

With the world watching, it would be understandable for a group of young kids to be nervous playing in the biggest game of their career, but Early described his emotions as being cool, calm and collected.

“I came back in the dugout excited because I knew I was fixing to go up there and lead it off with a base hit or being walked,” said Early. “Once I got walked, everyone else behind me was either getting walked or getting a hit.”

As an editor’s note, Early’s quote was funny because he detailed being excited even when his team was down double-digit runs. However, that goes to show the confidence he had in Team USA to storm back. Meanwhile, in the stands, his parents were on the edge of their seats watching the nail-biting game.

“That game was an emotional wreck,” said Early’s father, Kenny Hudson. “It was literally an up and down roller coaster from being up seven or eight to down 11 and having to come back in the manner in which they did it. That four-hour-long game had my stomach in knots.”

While in Mexico, Early’s family had to chance to see how Tyler faired against some of the best competition in the world. Against other national teams, Early hit .500 for the tournament to go along with six home runs. Early was also named to the All-Tourament team as the best left fielder.

“He hit one in the Cuba game down the line, and it was probably 320 or 330 feet at 11 years old,” said Hudson. “I caught myself measuring it during the game. There are a couple of swings that he’s had, and I am amazed as a parent and as a fan of baseball.

Early’s early success in the outfield came as a surprise for many given that he had only played first base and pitcher prior to the tournament. However, Early took inspiration from his idol - LSU’s Tre’ Morgan.

The comparison between the two is undoubtedly similar from their approach at the plate, to position changes on the diamond to even their height. Early had a chance to meet Morgan following an LSU game this season, and in a picture taken of the two, Early is about one inch shorter than the Tiger outfielder.

If Early’s success in baseball continues, he could one day meet Morgan again, perhaps in the Major Leagues.

Before that, Early and Team USA will have the chance to travel to Taiwan for the World Cup later this summer.

To support Early and his family on their trip to Taiwan, you can send donations to their PayPal @KavonaHudson

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