The sound emanating from 643 Training Center in Blue Springs gives the visitor a hint that someone special is in the batting tunnel.
The steady “WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!’ of bat meeting ball brings a lot of attention to the area near the center’s office, where former Blue Springs South High School all-state catcher Allante Hall is taking his cuts off a batting tee.
It’s become a daily routine for Hall, who jokingly tells owner Mick Simpson that 643 is his second home.
“We love to have the high school guys who go off to play college ball come back and work with some of the young kids,” Simpson said, “and we love them to come back and work on their game, like Allante’s doing.
“And we just like it when Allante comes by, because he’s always smiling, always working hard – he’s just a great kid.”
Hall enjoyed a near dream season in 2018, playing a key role in the Jaguars’ third consecutive district championship and third-place finish at the Class 5 state final four.
“If we’d have won state it would have been perfect,” said Hall, who always seems to find a reason to smile. “Winning three district championships in a row was amazing.
“Then, as a senior, going to state and getting a trophy – even though it wasn’t the trophy we wanted – was great. When I look back at the time I played at South I think of all my teammates. I love those guys – and our coaches.
“Coach (Ben) Baier is an amazing man. He lets us know that there is more to life than baseball, and we go out and do community work, and that’s where some of my best memories come from.”
Hall had a monster senior season at Blue Springs South, hitting .371 with 11 doubles, one triple, one home run, 19 RBIs, 29 runs, 18 walks, five stolen bases, a .458 on-base percentage, .536 slugging percentage, .994 OPS and .980 fielding percentage. He was named to the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association’s Class 5 All-State first team, all-district, All-Suburban Big Seven and a MHSBCA Senior All-Star.
He thought he had punched his ticket to play at Southeastern Conference power Arkansas, but his scholarship offer was rescinded. So he took the junior college route and went to Pensacola State College in Pensacola, Fla.
“I was disappointed things didn’t work out at Arkansas, but there’s a reason for everything, and I got a lot of work in and a lot of great experience at Pensacola,” Hill said.
After his senior season at Blue Springs South, Hall was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 29th round of the Major League Baseball June Amateur Draft but opted to play collegiately to improve all facets of his game.
He is eligible to be taken again in this year’s MLB draft on June 10, but it has been cut to five rounds from the usual 40.
“The (2018) draft was interesting and exciting – a lot of phone calls that day – but I wasn’t ready to play professional ball,” he said. “I’ll be interested to see if there is any interest in me next week when they have the draft, but with it being cut down to just five rounds, I’m thinking I’ll be going back to Pensacola to keep working hard.”
He was batting .214 with, six walks, five runs and three RBIs in just 13 games at Pensacola before the remainder of the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And another year at Pensacola, he hopes to earn a scholarship to an NCAA Division I school if he’s not drafted again.
“Michigan, Florida State, the University of Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama and even Auburn have shown interest in me,” Hall said, “so I’m excited about the future – very excited.”