Eagles’ Exton taking fast ball to Spalding

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By Mike Farner

 HEBRON ESTATES – North Bullitt senior Josh Exton has enjoyed his time being an Eagle, both playing football and baseball.

So, he decided to stay an Eagle, agreeing to a promotion to a Golden Eagle as he will be playing baseball starting in the fall at Spalding University in Louisville.

Deciding on a college was just part of the process for Exton. First, he had to decide which sport he wanted to play at the next level. He admitted to preferring football, but he came to the realization that his talents were better suited for baseball.

That decision was on full display during this past season as Exton became one of the dominant pitchers in the area for North Bullitt. During one post-season stretch, the senior won five straight decisions for the Eagles, helping the green and gold reach the semi-finals of the state tournament. Exton picked up all three winning decisions in the Sixth Region Tournament as North Bullitt won its first regional title since 1992.

After deciding on baseball, then there was the need to decide on which college. Exton also had interest from Indiana University-Southeast, Kentucky Wesleyan and Bellarmine before deciding on the Golden Eagles.

“It was mostly the coaches and the atmosphere they have there,” Exton said after a ceremony in the North Bullitt library to celebrate his commitment with teammates, family and coaches. “They have an up-tempo and fun attitude. I wanted to be part of that.”

Exton’s senior season started on the sidelines as some tendinitis in his shoulder kept him off the mound. Still, he ended up throwing 58 innings for the Eagles this spring and finished with a 6-1 record. The senior finished with a 1.59 ERA as he allowed 26 hits while striking out 67 batters.

At the plate, Exton finished the season with a .252 batting average with 24 RBIs, seven doubles and two triples. He also stole eight bases.

Exton doesn’t think he will do much hitting for the Golden Eagles.

“They have talked to me about pitching only,” Exton said. “Pitching is fine with me. I don’t care that much for hitting.”

Spalding obviously recruits this area strongly, but they actually saw Exton for the first time last summer when he was pitching for his summer team – the Razorbacks. Before playing for the Razorbacks, Exton played four seasons with the Outlaws under head coach Tim Sievert.

“He kept me in baseball,” Exton noted. “I thought about getting out.”

(Spalding also got a commitment from Bullitt East standout Chase Patton. The team had three players with Bullitt County ties on its roster this past season.)

The 17-year old son of Sherry and Mike Exton is the second of the family’s sons to go through the North Bullitt. Older brother Jake played football fo the Eagles.

At Spalding, Exton plans to major in Occupational Therapy.

“I have an aunt who just finished the masters program there,” Exton said.

The player did get a chance to go and watch Spalding play midway through the season.

“I feel like I can go in and do well,” he said.

While pitching in the state tournament and winning a regional title rank near the top of any senior’s fondest memories, Exton also pointed to a game a year ago when he pitched against Pleasure Ridge Park. North Bullitt won that game and it was the last game that the Panthers lost before winning the state title. Exton struck out 13 PRP batters in that win.

Baseball started for Exton in the Blue Lick Optimist League and then he played in the Okolona league. That transferred into him playing for the Outlaws. At the same time, he was playing football while attending Zoneton Middle School.

North Bullitt baseball coach Brian Wise was also around Exton for football as Wise is an assistant coach with the Eagles. He was glad that the right-hander stuck with baseball.

“He has pitched against the best competition,” the coach pointed out. “Spalding is tickled to get him. They think they got a steal.”

Wise is glad that he didn’t have to make the decision between the two sports that his senior had to make.

“That’s a tough question,” Wise admitted. “I don’t know if baseball is his best sport. He is an outstanding football player.

“Long-term as a pitcher he might have a little brighter future with baseball,” Wise added. “He had a great career here in both. He’s a good athlete. He’ll succeed in either sport.”

If Spalding needed the lift, Wise says that Exton could play in the outfield or at first base at the college level.

At Spalding, Exton will join coach Jeremy Steelinger’s program. The Golden Eagles posted a 28-15 mark last year, lowing twice to Greenville University in the conference’s post-season tournament.

Spalding is an NCAA Division III program. They are part of the St. Louis Area Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.