ATLANTA, Ga. – It’s not often you see a young man leave paradise in the summer to play for an Arkansas baseball team against an Alabama one in Georgia.

But that was exactly the scenario last week as Hawaii native and Razorback 2023 shortstop commit Nolan Souza (6-2, 207) and his Arkansas Sticks organization competed in the Perfect Game WWBA 17-and-under Tournament at various sites in Atlanta.

Souza plays his high school baseball for Honolulu (HI) Punahou and also club baseball for the Hawaii Tigers and former Punahou and Arkansas player Rick Nomura, but chose to spend the summers playing for the Sticks.

The Sticks are 22-3 this summer after finishing 8-1 and in the Sweet 16 of last week’s 440-team event and ahead of Perfect Game BCS Tournament July 25-30 in Fort Myers, Fla.

“I just wanted to do what was best for my dreams of making it to the big leagues and I feel like this program was the best for me,” Souza said. “Even though it was far from home, I feel like it has been a great move and I feel fortunate to be a part of it.”

Arkansas Sticks founder and head coach Chase Brewster was obviously pleased with decision by Souza, who bats left and throws right.

“Nolan is as good as anybody in the country,” Brewster said. “He is probably at a disadvantage in that competition-wise is not as good as playing against these teams in Atlanta, Georgia.

“He is really, really talented and the program he plays for is owned by a former Arkansas player. He (Nomura) is a great guy and Nolan’s parents (former Hawaii pitcher Brian and Kelli) are some of the best that we have ever had in our program.

“He loves being a Razorback and he kind of embodies everything we want in a Sticks player on and off the field. I think that is what the Razorbacks want as well.

Souza, who notes he is able to play baseball all year round with his state’s weather, committed to Arkansas as a sophomore and has stayed firmly pledged to the Razorbacks despite overtures from other programs.

“I feel great about them as a program and being able to play there in a couple of years,” Souza said. “I am just really proud of what they have been doing and excited to play there.”

Souza, who has also spent time at second and third base, is viewed as a talented two-way player.

“I have played pretty well this summer with both my bat and in the field and I am just anxious to take this momentum into my high school season next year and show what I’ve got,” Souza said.

Souza continues to push his development daily.

“I am still working on my speed and kind of coming into my body,” Souza said. “I have grown a bunch in the past couple of years and I am trying to fill out my body and get used to it and making sure everything is fundamentally sound.”

While it would not surprise if Souza is taken high in the 2023 Major League Baseball Draft, Souza’s current state of mind is to play at Arkansas.

“It would take a huge, huge number to get me not to go to Arkansas and I don’t think that will be the case,” Souza said. “I just feel like Arkansas has every thing that will help further my development and get me to where I want to be.“