Pascagoula youth baseball player on verge of playing for Team USA 12U squad

Pascagoula youth baseball player on verge of playing for Team USA 12U squad

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Jay Parnell was smart to agree with his wife, Anita, when the two were asked who their son Keilon got his baseball talents from.

"Me, no doubt," Anita said.

A former East Central High School softball first baseman, Anita is the more vocal of the two when it comes to watching their son play baseball.

Keilon Parnell, who is an 11-year-old center fielder from Pascagoula, is close to representing south Mississippi overseas in Taiwan. He's one of 36 finalists up for 18 spots to join Team USA's 12U team.

"I had to separate myself from other kids, work harder than them, but there was good talent and I just did my best and had fun," Keilon said.

After making the initial cut in Fairhope, Alabama, Keilon sped through another one in Winder, Georgia. Most recently, the city of Cary, North Carolina became witness to the talented ballplayer.

"When I saw him, I thought he was very special and I thought he had an opportunity to make this team," Keilon's coach Paul Tanner said. "There's no doubt in my mind that he'll represent south Mississippi."

Known for his speed and hitting ability, Keilon actually has the most satisfaction in the outfield making diving catches. He's hoping someday that his hard work will eventually land him a baseball scholarship with LSU.

"I tell him all the time to grind," Anita Parnell said. "Be greedy, but stay humble."

"I just want him to stay humble," Jay Parnell said. "It's a good opportunity for him. He's a kid from Goula and I don't think anybody has done this from Pascagoula. It would bring more exposure to the game down here."

The final tryout is set for July 19-21 in Compton, California. If he makes it through the 12U National Team Trials, he'll wear the red, white and blue in Taiwan soon after.

"First, I've got to make it," Keilon said. "After I make it, I have to keep on working. If I make it this year and I want to make it again, I have to try out again."

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