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BE's Hoffman signs for baseball at St. Catherine

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By Mike Farner

MOUNT WASHINGTON -- Bullitt East senior second baseman Jimmy Hoffman found just the perfect fit recently when he signed to play his college ball at St. Catharine College in Springfield, Kentucky.

Hoffman can play the game that he loves while at the same time being close enough to home for family and friends to watch many of his games.

“The coaches were really nice and they have a good program,” Hoffman said last week after signing all the official papers to attend the NAIA school. “Their record is good and it’s close to home.”

Despite being a three-year starter for Bullitt East after moving to Mount Washington midway through his sophomore school year, Hoffman didn’t have a lot of schools beating a path to his door, which was somewhat of a mystery to Bullitt East head coach Jeff Bowles. Still, when the offer came from head coach Luther Bramlett, it didn’t take long for Hoffman to decide it was the best for him.

The fact that St. Catharine is only an hour away from Mt. Washington was part of the allure.

“The way it worked out, that was important,” Hoffman noted. “I want my parents and friends and family to watch me play.”

There was a short period in which Hoffman was resigned to just continuing as a student in college. He looked at some of the bigger school sin the area and had even looked into walking-on and some programs.

“If the opportunity had not come along I was ready not to play or just be a walk-on somewhere.”

St. Catharine is a new member in the NAIA after being a junior-college program for a number of years. The school is now a four-year facility.

At this point, Hoffman has not decided on a major.

Bramlett and his coaching staff did not make contact with Hoffman until this season, which is sort of late in the recruiting process for seniors. They came to see a Bullitt East game to see some younger players and liked what they saw of the second baseman.

The 18-year old son of Ricky and Michele Hoffman grew up playing baseball in Florida. When his family moved to Kentucky, Hoffman joined the Bullitt East basketball team and then drew the attention of Bowles who was hearing that he also played baseball.

That turned out to be Hoffman’s only year of basketball, but the start of a big career on the diamond.

The senior was really not too concerned about moving from a warm weather, baseball-playing area to Kentucky where the sport has some limitations to being outdoors.

“It wasn’t really a concern,” he said. “I knew the program here was good. I knew I would try to do something year round.”

While at Bullitt East, Hoffman has played strictly at second base and that is where he thinks he will fit in at St. Catharine.

“I played all the positions growing up,” Hoffman pointed out. “It doesn’t matter to me where I play as long as I can help the team.”

Bowles jokingly refers to Hoffman as the ultimate foreign exchange student because he just fell in the coaches’ lap when he moved to the area.

“I had heard he played, but he had not come to me being a shy kid in a new school,” the coach recalled. “I saw him play basketball and I went and talked with him. He has been a good one.”

Hoffman did play a few games in the outfield as sophomore but then soon moved to second base and hasn’t left that spot since.

“He is a good enough athlete to play in the outfield,” Bowles said of Hoffman at the next level. “He is fast and has a strong arm. He’ll do whatever they need.”

Through the middle of last week, Hoffman was batting .422 for the Chargers. Midway through this season he moved to second in the line-up, batting between Matt Bowles and Brandon Alphin. That move has not been a problem.

In the top part of the line-up, Hoffman is going to break the school record for runs scored in a season. He was just one short of the mark of 41 last week. He has drilled six home runs and has 37 RBI with nine doubles. Hoffman has also stolen ten bases.