East’s Ralph signs to play baseball at Bellarmine

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By Mike Farner

 MOUNT WASHINGTON – Baseball is not always considered a game involving a lot of speed.

However, one part of baseball happened very fast for Bullitt East senior Alex Ralph and that was his recruitment by Bellarmine University to join the Knights’ squad starting next fall. Ralph recently made it all official, holding a ceremony in the Bullitt East Media Center in which his parents, sisters, coaches and teammates were present for the big event.

Ralph was one of seven players that Bellarmine inked during the fall singing period for NCAA Division II programs.

“It happened very quickly,” Ralph recalled as he got a chance to catch his breath after all the pictures were taken. “I went on a visit and the next week I knew I wanted to go there.”

Bellarmine first became aware of Ralph from information on the PBR website (Prep Baseball Report). The Knights watched him play last spring and then made the offer over the summer. The senior also considered Indiana University Southeast, Southern Indiana and Eastern Kentucky.

“They just seemed like they were headed in the right direction,” Ralph said. “They have beautiful facilities. Plus, being close to home was important also”

Ralph was a key piece for the Chargers last season as coach Jeff Bowles’ team posted a 33-4 record and reached the semi-finals of the Sixth Region Tournament before falling to eventual state champion Pleasure Ridge Park. As a junior, Ralph started at third base and he also pitched 21 innings, posting a 3-0 record with a 4.0 ERA.

At the plate, Ralph had a strong junior season, batting .329 with 25 hits of which six were doubles. He drove in 18 runners while striking out only ten times.

While Bowles expects Ralph to be a key pitcher for the Chargers during the upcoming season, Ralph was talking about concentrating more on fielding and hitting at the next level.

“They told me I would be competing for a spot on the left side of the infield,” Ralph said. “I prefer third base.”

The 17-year old son of Amy and Paul Ralph started playing baseball in the Okolona Youth League. He stayed in that league until he joined the Bullitt East program as an eighth-grader. As a sophomore he moved up to the varsity.

Ralph has three younger sisters, Jessica, Emmy and Lilly. Emmy and Lilly both play basketball at Eastside Middle School.

At this point, Ralph is not sure exactly want he wants to study at Bellarmine.

Playing baseball at Bullitt East has been rewarding.

“Every year we are fortunate to go to the University of Louisville and play at Patterson Stadium,” Ralph pointed out. “I love playing there.”

There is still another season for big things as a Charger.

“We’d like to knock off Pleasure Ridge Park in the regional final and then on and win the state title,” he said of a final dream.

In the spring, Bowles is expecting big things from Ralph.

“He has shortstop hands and corner speed,” the veteran coach said. “He is working so hard in the off-season. He’ll play shortstop or third base for us and hit in the middle of the order as well as doing some pitching.”

Bowles thinks that Ralph can also pitch for a program like Bellarmine.

“I fully expect him to go in as a two-way guy with them,” the coach said. “I know Southern Indiana was looking at him as a two-way guy. He has a big body and a good arm. You don’t want to eliminate that.”

Ralph will join a Bellarmine program that is looking to upgrade its program in the near future. That has started with the hiring of Larry Owens as the head coach and Terry Davis as the team’s assistant coach.

Last season, the Knights were 33-23 and won the Great Lakes Valley Conference post-season tournament. In the NCAA Midwest Division Tournament in Springfield, Missouri, Bellarmine posted a 4-2 record with both of the losses being to Grand Valley State, the tourney champs.

“I know coach Davis and he works this area hard,” Bowles said. “They really liked Alex. They saw him in the fall at Derby City (where Bullitt East played Fall Ball) which is close to them. He is as good a third baseman as there is in the area.”