Q&A: New Level Nationals Coach Rayne Raven

Hailing from Puyallup, Washington, the New Level Nationals traveled a long way across the country for the 10U Futures Invitational. As one of just 16 teams competing in the event, the Nationals showed up to Thomas Brooks Park on a mission and delivered in a big way in their opening two games on Thursday. In the morning slate of games, the Nationals picked up a gritty 8-4 win in their tournament opener against the Austin Dirt Dawgs. The team followed that with a back-and-forth, extra-inning win over Canes West Futures to cap off a 2-0 day and position itself well entering the final day of pool play.

New Level Nationals coach Rayne Raven spoke to USA Baseball ahead of his team's pool play finale:

Q: “That was a wild game against Canes West Futures, ending with a 7-6 win for you guys. Talk about what you saw and how proud you are of your team?”

A: “Oh, man, I can't even explain how proud I am. I mean, [Dylan Loper] threw six innings and did absolutely amazing. He had a huge hit in the seventh inning. I mean, we battled…we had a guy come in with the bases loaded no outs, right? These guys have no quit. That was probably the best 10U game I have ever seen.”

Q: “What are some of the messages you share with your team before they take the field for this tournament at USA Baseball?”

A: “There are only 16 teams that have a chance to do this. It’s a special thing for these guys. I just tell them to go out and have fun and enjoy the moment. I told them to be a good teammate and ultimately just have fun.”

Q: “What do you tell them about the importance of soaking in the experience?

A: “This is why they play baseball. It’s a great opportunity – they get good exposure from USA Baseball, which is every kid's dream to play for their country. So, it’s just an amazing opportunity.”

Q: “Like you said, only 16 teams get to be here. Talk about the competition level and the talent that you see on the field, on your team and the teams you're playing against.”

A: “I think it's incredible. You look at the pitchers and see that they aren't really walking people. People are making plays; I don't think there was an error on either side of both of our games [yesterday]. It’s just that the talent is out of this world. It really is a privilege for these guys to come here and battle.”

Q: “You had two big wins to open pool play. What do you guys have to do to win the pool and move on to bracket play?”

A: “We’ve just got to play our game. Just like we come into every game, right? We feel like we're the underdog and we just come out and compete every time and that's something we got to do. We’ve just got to make pitches and we’ve got to make plays.”

The New Level Nationals are back in action on Friday morning, taking on Wow Factor National at 10:45 am ET from Thomas Brooks Park. To follow along with all of the action from the 10U Futures Invitational, follow @USABEvents on Instagram and Twitter.