A-W player’s goal: Division I baseball team

Posted June 7, 2017 at 7:28 pm

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By Julie Ann Madden

The first moment he stepped on to a diamond, the baseball bug bit him.

And now at age 13, the eighth grader has a goal: play Division I college baseball for the Nebraska Cornhuskers or the Iowa Hawkeyes.

But first, his goal is to raise enough money to go to the Under Armour® Baseball Factory National World Series in Bradenton, Fla., next month.

Tyson was just nine-years-old when he played on a Westerner Summer Ball Team.

The next year he was selected to play on a travelling baseball team through the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) 13U Division. He started with the Sioux City Sluggers and the past three years, he’s been with the Sioux City Futures.

Ninety percent of the time, he’s the team’s catcher but he also pitches and plays short stop and third baseman.

“It’s always been in my blood,” said Tyson. “I just tried out one day, found out I was good so I stuck with it.”

His most memorable moment is when he hit his first home run.

“I was 10 and at my first traveling team tournament in Des Moines,” said Tyson. “It was really cool to hit a home run when I was that young.”

In the first three tournaments this season, Tyson has hit three home runs, had 11 RBIs, and scored 14 runs. His batting average is .350.

“Home runs feel good because a home run is kind of hard to do,” said Tyson. “It feels like you’ve accomplished something and you did it against players who are really good at baseball. It’s hard to do (in the traveling team league).”

Last year, he hit two over the fence — more than 300 feet in one game, earning him the Most Valuable Player trophy at the Diamond Rat Tourney in Sioux Falls, S.D.

That’s just one of many medals and trophies Tyson has earned with his baseball teams. Several times, his teams have finished as champions or runner-ups at their weekend tournaments.

In the Northwest Iowa Little League, in 2016 the Akron-Westfield team which included Tyson, finished the season in third place under the guidance of Coach Don Mullinix.

This summer Tyson will compete for the first time with the Akron-Westfield School District’s seventh grade baseball team.

Not only does Tyson play on his traveling team but if other teams have missing players, he will fill in for them. He also takes private baseball lessons in the offseason with former Pittsburgh Phillies Farm Team player, Kyle “Bronco” Lafrenz of Sioux City.

This past February, Tyson went to an Under Armour® tryout camp in Sioux Falls.

“We just wanted to get a professional opinion (of his skills),” said his mother, Randalyn Fairbanks of Akron. “We had no thoughts of him being selected for the Baseball Factory World Series camp in Florida. “Some parents think their child is really good, and we just wanted to know if we are seeing that or is it something we are just wishing.”

His baseball stats at the tryout put Tyson as one of the 25 percent of seventh graders who are not only chosen for this program but he was one of 200 who go straight to the tournament level, bypassing the developmental training camps, said his dad, Mike Fairbanks.

Tyson’s stats were:

• Standing Broad Jump: 7.3 feet;

• 60-Yard Dash: 8.07 seconds.

• Exit Velocity: 72 mph. High school players average 68 to 78 mph.

• Arm Strength: 71 mph. Advanced players his age average is 64 to 68.

• Grip Strength: 80.

“A Baseball Factory rep told me they see 6,000 to 10,000 kids a year,” said Mike. “They only put this tournament camp on for two weeks — 100 kids for each week are selected.”

Iowa isn’t baseball country because winter stops the games while in southern states kids can practice and play year-round, said Mike, explaining the reps come to this area looking for “Diamonds in the Rough.” In addition to playing at the tournament level, Tyson will be exposed to many baseball professionals and receive much training plus he will be encouraged to focus on academics and stay out of trouble to continue on his desired path of Division I player.

“The Baseball Factory will help me excel at baseball,” said Tyson. “Get better skills and the more skills I get, the more opportunities I will get.”

Just maybe he’ll get an opportunity to meet or even play baseball with his favorite player, Chicago Cubs Third Baseman Kris Bryant.

Ultimately, Tyson’s goal is to use his skills to help get into a good college.

Playing baseball has taught me to never give up and to keep fighting until the game’s over, said Tyson. Baseball teaches you how to control your emotions and what your strengths are,” he said.

“Randalyn and my main goal is just that — to get him into college,” said Mike. “Both academics and sports are important. With sports, we’re hoping it’ll help with the money — college scholarships.”

“If you can get scholarships, whether academics, sports or both,” said Randalyn, “you’re a head of the game.”
“We’re not thinking past that,” said Mike. “Obviously, his goal is Division I, which would be like the bigger schools. If not, that’s okay, too.”

“We’re just glad he has a goal,” he added. “We’re supporting his dream to go for it.”

Fundraising Efforts

Tyson began a letter campaign, seeking donation to help him and his parents to pay for this Baseball Factory opportunity.

Then his grandparents, ClicknPick owners Randy and Char Frerichs are holding bake sales at the Akron Area Chamber of Commerce’s Flea Market Fridays to raise funds. In addition, monetary contributions can be dropped off at their store, located at 140 Reed St.

Mike and Randalyn Fairbanks work in the local poultry industry. He is an assistant pullet manager for Center Fresh Eggs and she is a barn manager for Sioux Center Pullets. Mike is a Sheldon Class of 1994 alum and Randalyn is an Akron-Westfield 1995 graduate.

Tyson has two siblingsMikenna, an A-W sixth grader; and Kaberlee, a second grader.

In addition to Randy and Char Frerichs, Tyson is the grandson of Ron and Ruth Detloff of Craig, Maureen Burke of Wallingford, and Kevin and Denise Poland of Estherville.

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