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HEBRON ESTATES - Both North Bullitt baseball coach Brian Wise and St. Catharine College coach Luther Bramblett felt like they hit grand slams on Tuesday when four Eagle players signed to continue their careers at the Springfield, Kentucky school.
The event might have been the first time any one program in Bullitt County has sent that many players to the same college at one time. Overall, six Eagle seniors from last year’s team have accepted offers to play at the next level.
On Tuesday, it was the turn for seniors Matt Wagner, Jordan Mayberry, Doug Yates and Cody Adkins to sign on the dotted line.
“I’m sure that this is the most we’ve ever had in a single season,” Wise said of the signing of four players to one school. “It was just good timing that we had good players that are good enough to play at the next level. It’s exciting that they will get to play and play together. We’re pleased that coach Bramblett was interested in them.”
The St. Catharine coach couldn’t recall ever signing four players from the same high school team before.
“I don’t think so,” he said with a smile after getting all four signatures. “That’s a first.
“Those are all very good kids with solid character,” Bramblett added. “Those are the kids that we’re trying to attract. They have come from a good program and had a great year. They expect to win and have a tradition of winning. That’s what we want in our program.”
St. Catharine has just recently become a four-year school, but this is going to be Bramblett’s ninth season at the helm of the baseball program. Just this past season the team finished with a 37-14 and won the United States College Athletic Association National Championship.
This past season, the team competed in the Mid-South Athletic Conference and finished fourth, but because of the transition to the NAIA, the team was not eligible for that group’s national tournament. That will change next spring.
St. Catharine will play a handful of games this fall along with 15 to 20 intrasquad contests before playing roughly 55 games in the spring. Some of the freshmen and sophomores will compete in a junior-varsity program.
After a sizzling senior season that saw Wagner finish with an 7-3 record and wins over top-20 powers Trinity and Bullitt East, as well as a perfect game against Bullitt Central, Wagner became a hot commodity at the last minute. Maybe too hot. He may have fallen through a few cracks as schools felt like he would head to a bigger program.
Bramblett was ecstatic to get the lanky right-hander with a fastball in the upper-80s.
“Matt has the greatest potential to play varsity as a true freshman,” Bramblett said. “We’re pretty senior dominated at the position spots right now. That will make it tougher for the others.”
But as Wise pointed out, everyone benefited from colleges coming to look at Wagner. That opened doors and gave other players the opportunity to turn a few heads.
This past spring, Wise worked 59.1 innings with 82 strike-outs and 39 walks. Only nine of the 21 runs he allowed were earned, which left him with a 1.06 ERA.
The 18-year old son of Pam and Pat Wagner was ready to just attend college as a student before finding his pitching rhythm at the last moment. He now plans to major in sports administration.
Wagner also feels that he will be strictly a pitcher at St. Catharine. He grew up playing in the Okolona Youth League and this summer is playing with both the Louisville Baseball Club and the under-18 team at Okolona.
Wagner always had a good fastball, but it didn’t always go where he wanted. Working with private coach Rick Parr in the off-season paid off
The speedy Mayberry had two college options and two sport options. He had an offer on the table from Campbellsville University to play football. In the end, he decided to stay closer to home.
“I’ve been playing baseball since I was old enough to get on the field,” Mayberry pointed out. “Football I started with later. Baseball is my first love.”
Mayberry, the son of Tina and James Mayberry, grew up playing at either Blue Lick or Okolona. This past season he played centerfield for the Eagles but he has filled all three outfield positions in the past.
This past season, Mayberry had a .330 batting average and did not commit an error in the outfield. He led the Eagles with 17 stolen bases and had 31 hits and 15 runs driven in with 23 runs scored.
The 18-year old Mayberry was looking at the physical therapy field, but that isn’t offered at St. Catharine so he will now be looking at something along the lines of biology.
Bramblett and his coaching staff did not make contact with Yates until after the Eagles’ district tournament win over Southern. Lindsay Wilson was the only school at Yates had made contact with.
Yates and Wagner have been playing together this summer on the Okolona All-Stars and the two decided together that they wanted to go to St. Catharine.
“They have better dorms there and the school is not as big and the team is better,” Yates said of the deciding factors to attend St. Catharine.
Yates, the 18-year old son of Doug and Kay Yates, played baseball for four years at North Bullitt and also played golf for four years at the school. He started his baseball career at Okolona.
The player said that he is being looked at as a utility player for St. Catharine. He plans to start in the biology field at the school and then move into some aspect of the medical field.
As a senior, Yates batted .352 with 18 RBI. His 32 hits were tied for the team high. He also scored 17 runs.
The 17-year old son of Dana and Tim Adkins, Cody Adkins was all set to attend the University of Kentucky when St. Catharine made the late push. The school contacted Adkins and Mayberry at the same time and the two decided at the same time to play baseball in Springfield.
Adkins played five years of baseball at North Bullitt and also one year of golf. He started his baseball career at Blue Lick where was father was League President until his son was 13 years old.
“I was kind of hoping that I could play (at the next level),” Adkins said after he completed the paperwork. “If I didn’t get the opportunity, that would have been fine also.”
Having his friends decide on the same school helped also.
“That made it easier,” Adkins said. “But I would have gone down there even if it was just me.”
This past season, Adkins threw 22.1 innings and finished with a 3-0 record. He allowed 11 earned runs and finished with a 3.45 ERA. Adkins had 25 strike-outs and nine walks.