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BARDSTOWN - When Roger Robinson’s Bethlehem baseball squad gets back to practice in a few months, he’ll be without stalwart southpaw Brandon Ray for the first time in a long time.
“Brandon brought leadership and the ability to compete to our team,” Robinson said of Ray, who signed recently with Asbury University.
“Brandon had the uncanny ability to keep you in the game even with sub-par stuff on the mound.”
Robinson says this was due to Ray’s ability to throw strikes and let the defense play behind him. “Brandon has excellent location of his pitches,” added Robinson. “Ray helped his own cause at the plate and was an excellent hitter even when he wasn’t having his best day on the mound.”
Ray was a very versatile player on the Bethlehem team throughout his career. He played first base through his sophomore year then moved to outfield where he “stepped in and did a great job,” Robinson said.
Ray eventually found his place on the mound where he has excelled. Robinson added that he was most impressed by Brandon’s attitude. He is a good baseball player but a better person, he said.
“Brandon’s most impressive attribute is his care for others especially his teammates,” Robinson said. “He really wants them to share success and isn’t concerned with personal fanfare.”
Ray said he was drawn to Asbury because it is a situation he is familiar with.
“I liked the fact that it was a small Christian school similiar to what I experienced at Bethlehem,” Ray said.
Ray also said he is looking forward to getting back on the field.
“It’s a real blessing knowing that I am one of the few who get to enjoy playing 4 more years. Most guys get cut off after high school,” Ray said.
Ray was a multi-sport athlete also, starring for the Bethlehem basketball team. This improved his abilities in baseball, according to Robinson.
“It increased his determination and athleticism and he played better baseball because of it,” he said.
Asbury baseball coach Steve Marks was impressed by Ray as a player and a person.
“He visited Asbury a couple of times and he really seemed to fit in with the players,” Marks said. Marks says the Asbury squad has many new recruits and Ray figures to compete for a starting spot right off the bat.
“It will take him some time to adjust to the speed of the college game as compared to high school,” Marks said. “We know he is going to fit here and that he’s a hard worker.”
Ray will be one of two left handed starters for the Asbury squad.
Ron Ray, Brandon’s father, was pleased with his son’s college choice.
“Asbury offers everything we were looking for in a school. It’s a small private school with a sense of family similar to that of Bethlehem, “ Ray said.
He said he was pleased about the experience his son had while at Bethlehem, especially the social environment.
‘I would like to thank Coach Robinson, AssIstant Coach Tony Brangers, Athletic Director Tom Brown, and Principal Tom Hamilton for the development of my son as a player and a person,” Ron Ray said. “Also, (basketball) coach Artie Braden played a tremendous role in Brandon’s overall development.”
Ray’s mother, Debbie, spoke of the experience she hopes Brandon gain while at Asbury.
“I want him to be happy and continue on the path he’s on,” she said. “He’s a leader and he makes good choices and Asbury will help him with those things.