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World of baseball awaits Smithsburg teen

July 05, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

SMITHSBURG -- Kasey Raios remembers how, as he watched his brother play Little League baseball, he could barely control himself.

"I always tried to run out onto the field and my parents would have to grab me," Raios said.

That's all over now.

The world of baseball awaits Raios, literally.

The 16-year-old Smithsburg High School student, who has played in the local Valley Little League, the Baltimore Metro League and on Smithsburg High's baseball team, has been selected to compete in the People to People Sports Ambassador Program.

Raios submitted references and underwent an interview process to be considered for the program, selection for which is considered an honor.

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People to People Sports Ambassador Programs offer student athletes in grades five through 12 the opportunity to compete internationally and train with world-class coaches, according to the organization's Web site (www.peopletopeople.com). The program also helps youths develop leadership skills, self-confidence and a foundation for success in a globalized world, the Web site states.

In the baseball program, Raios said he will study under coach Jeff Nelson, who at one time pitched for the New York Yankees.

Raios was scheduled to fly out of Dulles International Airport on Sunday for Vienna, Austria, to play on an American baseball team that will compete against teams from countries such as France, Japan and China.

Raios said he has been told that he will be playing up to three games a day, with the amount of play depending on his team's wins.

"It's just going to be nonstop baseball," Raios said.

Raios, who is scheduled to return home July 15, takes his game seriously.

In addition to his games at Smithsburg High and in Valley Senior League, which he is playing in this summer, Raios runs regularly to stay in shape, throws a baseball every day to keep his arm loose and often goes to the Extra Innings baseball training facility near Williamsport, where he practices hitting in a batting cage.

Raios plays outfield and catcher. He said he likes the latter position the most because of the control it has over the game.

When asked what he would like to do with baseball, Raios dreams big.

Playing professionally would be great, he said.

"I'd like to go as far as I can," said Raios, who will be a senior at Smithsburg High School this year.

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