Diamond Warriors in rebuilding mode

Diamond Warriors Kyle Kentros safely reaches first as East Coast Baseball Academy’s John Ayers awaits the throw.

The Diamond Warriors travel baseball team is in Jamie Bradford’s blood. He played for the Mount Pleasant team growing up and is determined to rebuild it into the team he knew.

“Diamond Warriors have been around since 1998, which makes it the second-oldest program in the Charleston area to the Diamond Devils,” Bradford explained.

“We started with a 12-under team and eventually grew to 18-under. There was a system, but over the last few years, the system fell apart.”

The idea, Bradford said, is to rejuvenate the program, eventually adding more age levels. Right now, the Diamond Warriors (diamondwarriorbaseball.com) are competing at the 14-under level, but the team has mostly 13-year-olds.

“We have four 14-year-olds and the rest are 13. We’re trying to get them to stay together and develop, grow through the system,” said Bradford, who played at Wando and later at Spartanburg Methodist and USC Salkehatchie.

“Ultimately, what we will do in the fall is add 12-under and 13-under teams. Those three groups over the next few years will build the program. Right now, the program is young, and that’s where I want it to be. (The players) won’t be gone in a year or two. They have four or five years to play in the program and develop.”

Although the team is based in Mount Pleasant, Bradford said the roster includes players from other areas, something he hopes to encourage as it grows. The team practices at the old Wando High School field.

Travel baseball is a development opportunity, where players concentrate on the game and get an opportunity to play against high levels of competition.

It’s an opportunity for players to show their baseball skills outside their home area, and it’s something college baseball coaches keep an eye on.

“What we’re trying to do is have these kids come in with good coaches and find out what it takes to get to the next level,” Bradford said.

“We can help these kids develop as players. It’s a high commitment level, and we strongly encourage a family atmosphere. We want good people in our program. We ask that our parents be involved.

“Some of my best friends are guys I grew up playing travel ball with that I did not go to high school with.

“One thing we have on our team this summer is that the guys have become more than teammates; they’ve become great friends. It’s awesome.”