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Nighthawks evaluate future talent at prospect camp

by Bryan Rice | May 25, 2023 at 4:03 a.m.
Sophomore Cameron Tyson (3) warms up before a game against Carl Albert State College at Babe Ruth Field at Majestic Park. Babe Ruth field will host the 2023 National Park prospect camp June 1. - Photo by Bryan Rice of The Sentinel-Record

The Nighthawks of National Park College are ready to see who can fly as they host their annual baseball prospect camp June 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"We do it every year," head coach Rich Thompson said. "We always like to kind of give the local kids a chance to come out and have a crack. We quite often get some guys from out of state that come and attend the camp. We have had good success in the past at finding guys that end up helping us."

National Park is a National Junior College Athletic Association Division II program and will hold the camp at Majestic Park's famed Babe Ruth Field.

"(Babe Ruth Field) 100% I think we have the jewel on the JUCO circuit," Thompson said. "We are very fortunate. That was a great partnership with Majestic for us and the college. We could not do it without it. Honestly, it is a great place to be. Every time I show a kid this is where we play, they are quite excited. Whenever you get to play on the ground that Babe Ruth played on that is kind of cool."

Information for camp registration can be found on National Park's website at The fee is $50 per person, collected at check in.

"We have done it since we started baseball here," Thompson said. "It is something I enjoy doing because it does give us the ability to see kids that maybe that are interested in us and we just did not know. There are lots of kids out there that sometimes we do not get to see and do not even know that they are interested.

"If we throw it out there to them and they show up then at least we know are kind of barking up the same tree."

Incoming freshman signee and Hot Springs Trojan pitcher Xavier Parker put his skills on display at last year's camp as a junior and eventually earned himself an offer from Thompson's Nighthawks.

The camp is open for freshmen through seniors who want to get a college look.

"With our new NCAA recruiting stuff, I think that is probably the best time," Thompson said. "Sometimes we do an invite only, but this one is open. Hopefully we get surprised."

National Park has had success in the past in signing prospects from skill camps.

"One of the best players we have ever had ended up coming to a prospect camp with us after transferring from somewhere else," Thompson said. "He did not come in the guy that he left here, but he ended up signing DI to Toledo. Cole Rodriguez, he was just at a prospect camp that came with mutual interest.

"We have had, of the four camps we have run, we have probably ended up with about 25 kids from those camps if not a lot more. The first year we took about 12 guys from the tryout. Jack Hackney ended up being our starting shortstop for three seasons."

The Nighthawks have had varying sized camps ranging from 25 to 55 participants.

"Depending on the year and depending on who is still out there, hopefully we will have a good turnout," Thompson said. "It would be nice to have some guys to choose from."

Skills and drills will be on display during the camp's duration.

"It will be a pro-style showcase," Thompson said. "We will run (60-yard dashes). We will run (velocity) from the infield and velo from the outfield. We will have batting practice. Pitchers will bullpen and get on the radar gun. All these kids can get those numbers if they would like them.

"Hopefully it is not too hot and we will be ready to go. We will be ready to get after it."

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