In less than a month, Markevian “Tink” Hence, 10, of Pine Bluff, will be going to Disney World.
As if going to Disney World wasn’t cool enough all ready, he will be going there to do his favorite thing — play baseball.
Tink Hence, an all-American performer who plays for Easton Elite, will be participating in the USSSA Elite World Series from July 13-20 in Orlando, Fla. The soon-to-be sixth grader at Southeast Middle School says he has been playing baseball since he was 3.
He says he prefers to play shortstop, but, according to his father Marvin Hence, his real place to shine is on the mound.
“I’ve clocked him at 65 (mph),” Marvin Hence said. “I mean, I even had him clocked at 63 (mph) when he was 9.”
In October, Marvin Hence learned his son had been selected to an all-America team by Travel Ball Select.
Every player selected to the team had a paragraph written about them on Travel Ball Select’s website. Tink Hence’s said, “He’s generally regarded as the most dominant pitcher and the best player across the state of Arkansas.”
According to his father, Tink Hence has been pitching since he was about 6.
“He’s always had great speed on his pitches, but the most impressive thing has been his control, “ Marvin Hence said. “I mean, I can only think of like 4 times he’s ever even hit a kid.”
Tink Hence throws a curveball to go with his fastball, and is also working on a slider. He even has become accustomed to throwing from different arm angles — over the top, three-quarters or side arm — so as to keep the hitters off balance.
Marvin Hence says he calls the pitches for his son and also signals from which arm angle he should throw.
According to his father, one thing Tink Hence has that most pitchers his age don’t have is a quick pick-off move.
“Our motto is ‘Let’s get a first base coach fired, today,’” Marvin Hence said.
Before making the trip to Orlando, Tink Hence will play in the four-team Arkansas state tournament in Fort Smith. He won the Most Valuable Player award in last year’s eight-team tournament.
Marvin Hence estimates that his son plays baseball 46 weekends a year. According to his father, most of the tournaments Tink Hence plays in are in Mississippi and Tennessee. Tink Hence says the furthest he has ever gone to play baseball is Alabama, so the trip to Orlando will top it.
Between tournaments and league games, Marvin Hence, who helps coach his son’s teams, says that Tink Hence plays in approximately eight games each week.
Despite playing in hundreds of games a year, Tink Hence has been able to stay healthy thanks in large part to a strict pitch count of 75 pitches for league games and a maximum of eight innings pitched within 24 hours during a tournament.
“I can only think of one time he’s ever told me his arm hurt,” Marvin Hence said.
While Tink Hence’s pitching has been consistent throughout his limited baseball career, the thing that has impressed Marvin Hence the most about his son’s play this year has been his improvement at the dish.
“When he was 7 he got hit by a 12-year-old pitcher and that made him kind of gunshy at the plate, but this year he has really started getting comfortable in the box,” Marvin Hence said.
Tink Hence does some switch-hitting, but mostly hits from the right side. In the fall, his father hopes Tink Hence can improve his hitting from the left side of the plate and his bunting from the right side.
As you may have noticed from this story, Tink Hence is a quiet kid. If you can get more than a couple of words out of him, you must be a conversational wizard.
According to his father, there is only one thing that gets his son talking at a decipherable volume — his PS3.
“He’ll be playing those video games and you’d swear there are 20 people in the room,” Marvin Hence joked.
When asked about his favorite video game, unsurprisingly, Tink Hence just said, “MLB.”