Two southeast Raleigh baseball players getting 'trip of a lifetime'

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Later this month, two youngsters from Raleigh will get a trip of a lifetime. Both have been selected to represent the United States at a baseball tournament in the Dominican Republic.

Jaden Jordan, who recently graduated from Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School and rising junior Preston Kennedy will play for a high school elite team at the seventh annual Caribbean Classic.

"It means a lot really because just being from here and going to see how other people live, seeing their culture, it's really fun," Preston said.

Jayden said he is proud to represent his community.

"Coming from the Southside, not a lot of us play baseball; if we do play baseball we kind of stop at rec league, so for me to come out here and be able to represent my country from southeast Raleigh, that kind of means a lot," he said.

Baseball has been a dying sport among Black youths for decades. Not many of Jayden's and Preston's peers share the same passion.

"It's a really hard sport," Preston said. "You've got to put a lot of time into it. It's not really action-packed."

Jayden agreed.

"Basketball comes first in this community, even for me," he admitted. "And then at some point, baseball just kind of took over."

After returning from the Dominican Republic, Jayden hits the road for Columbia, South Carolina, where he will play baseball and attend Benedict College in pursuit of a business degree. His dad and coach, Jerrell, played ball at Saint Augustine's, which no longer has a program.

"North Carolina has 10 HBCU's, but only one has baseball now and that's North Carolina A&T," Jerrell said. "He wanted to be a part of that family atmosphere. He couldn't get it at my alma matter, so we looked around to find other HBCU's that had that family atmosphere and Benedict was the perfect fit; they checked all the boxes."

Landing a scholarship is the result of a lot of hard work fueled by getting cut from the team as a freshman.

"And I thought like well, if I can't play in high school, I can't play in college and I just started working and I saw the results come and after that I just started working, and I saw the results come," Jayden said.

Preston's dream is to play for the University of Miami. He's inspired by Jayden.

"I love seeing all my friend succeed in life," Preston said. "Doing better than me. Love seeing that."

Aside from baseball, what are they most looking forward to in the Dominican? The food, of course.
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