Little League World Series inspired USF player to dream big

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It's been nine years since USF's Kevin Merrell made a trip to the Little League World Series. It was a time in his life that he thinks about often.

Now, the BaseBulls junior is looking to re-live the dream at another level.

"Those days were awesome," said Merrell. "There were so many great experiences on the baseball field. Now we are hoping, we made it to the Little League World Series, now we are trying to make it to the College World Series."

The video highlights from the Little League World Series, including his introduction where is claimed that Derek Jeter was his favorite player, is still getting play around USF.

"The funny thing, we watch that sometimes," laughed Merrell. "Some of the coaches still mess with me about it, but it's Ben Zobrist now."

"We have seen that video and we have shown our entire team that video on the scoreboard before practice," said USF head coach Mark Kingston. "We saw his homerun to dead center field, and we saw his interview about when he talked about his best player, and he had a little bit of that lisp with those braces that you just mentioned. Kevin is such a great kid. He just puts you in a good mood when he's around."

On the baseball field, Kevin is still a kid at heart.

"Oh yeah," Kevin smiled. "Baseball is a game you started when you were little. You always have to have that mentality."

He's still having fun and success. Kevin lead the Bulls in batting average and on-base percentage as a sophomore. Bulls Head Coach Mark Kingston believes Kevin's Little League World Series days have prepared him for now.

"When you're a 12-year-old kid and you get to play on that stage, I'm sure that hardens you a little bit," said Kingston. "If you can do that at that age... if I did it as a 12-year-old, I sure as heck can do it as a 20-year-old."

But his greatest memories from the trip to Williamsport, Pennsylvania will be tough to re-live completely.

"We had a lot of fun in the dorms," said Merrell. "It was obvious fun playing, but staying up late and having pillow fights. That was stuff you'll never forget."

Now his eye is on Omaha and the College World Series.