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Soria tags All-American status

Forest Lake junior Shane Soria impressed scouts over the summer with speed and hitting
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Shane Soria isn’t going to blast towering home runs or throw the baseball 95 mph. But his speed and skill with the bat certainly turned heads this summer. The Forest Lake Christian junior was named to the age 16-and-under United States Specialty Sports Association All-American Team after impressing coaches and scouts at qualifying events over the summer. Soria was one of 140 participants at the USSSA All-American Games Aug. 6-8 at the Houston Astros’ spring training facility in Kissimmee, Fla. Soria was selected to the All-American team after impressing a selection committee that included former Major League Baseball veteran Brian McRae and former MLB All-Star Walt Weiss. “The coaches said they liked my speed,” Soria said. “I’m a contact hitter and I’m left-handed —- I’m a leadoff man.” Soria, who plays center field, just missed out on a spot on the USSSA National Team, which will represent the U.S. in international competition next summer. He is an alternate for that team as an All-American. It was the second year the USSSA held the All-American Games and selected a national team. Mike Cuzzone, who works for the organization based in Chicago, said most of the players on last year’s All-American team have committed to play college ball. “Most of the guys are going to be seniors this year and a lot of those guys have signed to play in college,” Cuzzone said. In addition to showcasing their skills for college coaches, the players in the non-profit USSSA program have the unique opportunity to face teams from all over the world. “The end result is making the national team and last year’s team went to Japan,” Cuzzone said. “The international tournaments are one aspect that make the USSSA program really unique.” Soria played Bear River Little League before his high school career took off. The 16-year-old Lake of the Pines resident was on the Forest Lake varsity squad as a freshman and last spring he batted .358 with 10 steals and nine triples for the Falcons. Soria learned about the USSSA team tryouts from his friend Jake Slane, an Auburn Christian student. Both players initially tried out in San Jose before they were selected to play in the All-American Games. They played a handful of games in front of scouts and coaches, including a former Jesuit player, who managed Soria’s team. “One thing he told me that really stuck was, ‘The harder you work, the luckier you get,’” Soria said. “I learned a lot there.” Soria said he hopes to take his baseball career to college, and even beyond if the opportunity presents itself. “Playing in college would be cool and I’ll see where it takes me from there,” he said.