Local Baseball Standout Drafted By MLB Team; Snelsire Family Reflects On Lifelong Dream Realized

Local Baseball  Standout Drafted By MLB Team; Snelsire Family Reflects On Lifelong Dream Realized
Eric, Hayden and Jocelyn Snelsire are pictured at Hayden’s spring graduation from Randolph Macon College. Photo courtesy of OPA

OCEAN PINES — The dreams of a local family came true last Tuesday night when the Tampa Bay Rays drafted Hayden Snelsire in the 17th round of the annual Major League Baseball Draft.

The Snelsires lived in Ocean Pines for 17 years, before recently moving. But the entire family has left a lasting legacy on the area.

Hayden was a star on Berlin Little League All-Star teams for almost a decade. His dad, Eric, was a league coach and past vice president, and his mom, Jocelyn, was heavily involved in the league as a fundraiser and booster.

“It was a little surreal,” Hayden said of being drafted. “It still hasn’t really clicked yet. But it was just crazy to see my name on that board. It was an awesome moment.”

Jocelyn posted a video of the draft announcement on Facebook on Tuesday night and the post went viral, as well-wishers from all over the community congratulated Hayden and the family. Many had watched Hayden play Little League and high school baseball in person, or during all-star games that were nationally televised on ESPN.

“It is hard to put into words how rewarding it is to see your kids achieving goals they set for themselves at such a young age,” Jocelyn said. “Hayden has always been focused on developing his skills and competing at the highest level, even when he was starting out in tee ball.”

Hayden started playing tee ball in Ocean Pines when he was just 3 years old.

“I also remember a lot of times going to the rec center there, and playing basketball over there behind the police station,” he said. “That was always fun.”

Ocean Pines Recreation and Parks Director Debbie Donahue also remembers watching Snelsire play Pop Warner football.

“We were so excited to see Hayden get drafted,” she said. “I remember seeing him play Little League, and he was involved very early on with some of our rec programs, so it’s amazing to see a homegrown talent achieve his goals.”

Snelsire threw a no-hitter in 2011 as the youngest player in Berlin Little League.

Three years later, in 2014, he was one of the standouts of the Berlin Intermediate All-Star team that reached the Little League World Series championship game in Livermore, California. It was a moment that captivated the community and was also the start of several years of deep post season runs by Berlin Little League teams.

“His journey through Berlin Little League for almost 10 years was a highlight for all of us,” Jocelyn said. “Watching that group of boys play together for all those years was so much fun. They helped establish BLL at the state and regional levels.

“But the best part is that when Hayden was drafted, each of those amazing young men reached out to congratulate him,” she added. “They really are brothers for life.”

Hayden said it was a special moment when his old teammates reached out on draft night.

“We’ve always stayed in each other’s lives through social media, kind of following each other, but it’s been a while since I’ve talked to some of them,” he said. “So, it was really nice to hear from them.”

Hayden went on to play for the Stephen Decatur Seahawks and was named Pitcher of the Year in the Bayside Conference South during his last season, in 2019. During his senior year, he threw 41 1/3 innings in nine games, striking out 65 and walking 12. He allowed just three earned runs for an ERA of 0.65.

He went on to pitch for Randolph-Macon College and tied a program record this year with 17 strikeouts in a single game. He also holds the career strikeout record for the college (237).

In 2023, Hayden went 8-2 with a 2.99 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings. He earned All-America Second Team honors and was named to the All-Region First Team and All-State (Virginia) First Team.

“He was laser focused on playing at the collegiate level and going somewhere where he felt he could make an impact — RMC was that place for sure,” Joceyln said. “Coach Ray Hedrick has been so supportive of Hayden and has helped him reach so many of his goals. His teammates there are awesome too, and we couldn’t be happier with the choice he made.”

When asked what’s next, Snelsire said, “I’m going to get a chance to talk to some of the people at the Rays and they’re going to kind of give me the lowdown of what’s next. But it’s been so cool to see everything come full circle, and to get to continue playing at a professional level.”

His mom Jocelyn added, “We are so excited for this next chapter for Hayden and know that he will work hard to represent himself, Berlin, SDHS and Randolph Macon well. We are so thankful for the support of this community, and our friends and family.”