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HEBRON ESTATES – It turned out to be a great spring for North Bullitt senior baseball player Justin Stinson.
Even before helping the Eagles win the school’s first regional baseball title and then advancing to the semi-finals of the Kentucky State Tournament, Stinson signed to play his favorite sport at NCAA Division II Kentucky State University.
It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, and Stinson had other options, but in the end, he felt that the school in Frankfort was the best fit for him. Before making his decision in late April, Stinson had also considered Shawnee State, Spalding and Pikeville.
“I didn’t know for sure until about the second time I went there for a game,” the senior said following a ceremony in the North Bullitt lobby to make his signing public. “I felt pretty sure then. That’s when I made up my mind.
“When I went there I liked the fit and it was close to home,” Stinson added. “I can always come home on weekends. I also felt I could go there and play some early in my career.”
At North Bullitt, Stinson was primarily a second baseman, but his first spot at the next level could be in a corner position.
“I talked to the head coach (Rob Henry) and they are graduating their third baseman and first baseman,” Stinson said. “I could play at third and then transfer to second. He said he would like to get me in the line-up early.
“I would prefer second,” the senior added. “I could play at third if I need too. I can play wherever he needs me.”
Stinson began playing baseball when he was 3-years old in a YMCA League and he switched to the Blue Lick Optimist League when he was 6-years old. Between eight and 12-years of age, Stinson played for the Louisville Legends before switching back to Blue Lick where he presently plays with the All-Star squad.
For the past two years, Stinson has played on the North Bullitt golf team, but baseball was his first love.
Before the post-season success this spring, Stinson pointed back to the opening game of his junior season as a favorite memory. In that game, he had six hits and set the school record for runs driven in. As with all the North Bullitt players, the senior also fondly recalls beating Pleasure Ridge Park last season, the last game the Panthers lost before rolling to a state championship.
The 18-year old is the son of Ginny and Ray Stinson and he has five siblings. For many years Stinson was the stepson of North Bullitt baseball head coach Brian Wise and the ability to talk baseball 24/7 worked out well for both father and stepson.
“It was tough at times,” the player said with a smile. “We got through it. I think we grew into it. I wouldn’t trade it away now. He’s one of the best coaches I’ve had.”
It worked out fine in the eyes of Wise.
“It was the best experience in coaching that I’ve had without a doubt,” the veteran Eagle head coach said. “We could communicate after games and at home before games. We knew when it was time to leave baseball behind and be family. It was good. It was a great relationship.”
During his career at North Bullitt, Stinson helped the program win back-to-back district titles for the first time in over two decades and then winning the first regional title since 1992. Batting second in the line—up, Stinson batted .281 with five doubles and a triple. He also scored 31 run, drove in 17 runs and stole eight bases. He also led the team with a dozen sacrifice bunts.
“I think he projects as a second baseman,” Wise said. “But, to get him in the line-up earlier, they are looking at him at third base. Early on he can do that.”
Kentucky State could use a few players of Stinson’s caliber. The Thorobred program suffered through a 15-38 record this past spring. That team started the season 0-11 and was at 1-18 before rallying late in the campaign.
Kentucky State plays in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Thorobreds did go 2-2 in the post-season tournament in Ozark, Alabama including a win over top-seeded Albany State before finally being bounced by Albany State later in the double-elimination event.
Former Bullitt Central player Dylan Seago played for the Thorobreds this past season, but he will graduate. Stinson will be the only Bullitt County player on the Kentucky State roster next season.