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Athlete of the Week: Luke Leto focuses on playing, having fun

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Luke Leto, 16, has been ranked at or near the top of most every major recruiting service that analyzes baseball players in the class of 2021. He's hit better than .500 in a season. He's represented his country on a national stage. (WWMT)

It was a normal afternoon. Luke Leto and his Portage Central teammates were preparing to practice, as their season winds down. Like so many days this spring in Michigan, it was cold.

But Leto knew that on this day, there would be more than just swings and throws, bunts and tee work. On this day, like a few in the past and likely more in the future, Leto would have to answer questions about how he's handled national attention for his ability to play baseball.

"I just try not to think about it," Leto said, sporting a Kansas City Royals pullover. "Just come out, play, and have fun."

When you've produced as much as Leto has in his young career, "fun" is pretty much part of the deal.

The 16-year-old has been ranked at or near the top of most every major recruiting service that analyzes baseball players in the class of 2021. He's hit better than .500 in a season. He's represented his country on a national stage.

For a high school sophomore, there aren't a lot of resumes more complete than that.

"That was a once-in-a-lifetime thing," Leto said of playing with the 15U U.S. Team at the WBSC Baseball World Cup. "Just to be out there playing for your country, there's nothing like it."

Playing would be one thing. Excelling? That's quite another. Over the course of nine games, Leto hit .364 and drove in eight runs. Couple that with the fact he also worked 3.2 scoreless innings over the course of the tournament, and recorded the final five outs in the Gold Medal game (won by the Americans)? Storybook stuff.

Yet the future LSU Tiger is still in high school, something scouts, coaches, and reporters must sometimes work to remember. His goals? Win a state championship.

"That's my number one thing, I've always wanted to win," Leto said. "That would be huge if we could make a run."

If Leto and the Mustangs make a run, or even if they don't, one thing has become clear with each season that passes in Leto's career: If he keeps up his success, normal afternoons will almost always include talking to the media. There will just be more reporters.

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