Crabtree

Barren County’s Blake Crabtree, front and center, signs a baseball scholarship with Volunteer State Community College on Wednesday afternoon. Pictured front row center is Blake Crabtree, flanked on the left by his father, Brian, and on the right by his mother, Michelle. Pictured back row, left to right: Barren County coach Scott Gillon, VSCC head coach Mike Crossland and VSCC assistant coach Brandon Nolen.

It might seem just a bit unnatural for Barren County’s Blake Crabtree to be seen in blue and white.

But the Trojan senior will be happy to wear those colors, which are the colors of Volunteer Sate Community College, starting in the fall of 2008.

Crabtree signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball for the Gallatin, Tenn., school Wednesday afternoon in the BCHS library in front of friends and family.

“It feels good,” Crabtree said. “It’s sort of nervous, but it feels pretty good.”

Crabtree played shortstop and pitched for Barren, and although he will primarily be an infielder at VSCC, he could see time both in the field and on the mound.

“He’s a great athlete. He brings a lot of things to the table as a baseball player, being able to be a dual guy for us - playing a position and pitch,” Pioneers head coach Mike Crossland said. “We’re not going to close the door on either one of those until we absolutely have to.

“At some point we’ll make a decision on what’s going to get him to the next level. We’re excited about getting him.”

It’s that versatility that Barren baseball coach Scott Gillon said made Crabtree an attractive candidate to move his skills to the next level.

“Blake is a kid that can play any position on the field,” Gillon said. “For us over the last three or four years, he’s pitched and he’s played short. Now there’s not any position on the field that Blake can’t play.

“When you can find kids like that, that can play any position, those kids are a rarity.”

Crabtree chose the Pioneers over other junior colleges in Tennessee and Illinois, as well as four-year schools such as St Catharine and Kentucky Wesleyan.

“It was fairly close to home, so I thought that would help me out a lot, being able to go home,” Crabtree said. “I went down there and visited the coach and I liked him a lot. They had a good background and good records, and they seemed like they were on the right track, so that’s where I decided to go.”

VSCC went 32-27 in 2007 with a 17-19 record in the Tennessee Junior and Community College Athletic Association. The Pioneers hit .321 as a team last season and also compiled a 5.03 team earned run average.

“When he’s done with the two years with us, I think he’s going to have a lot of options,” Crossland said. “I think that’s what intrigued him to come to our place — not to close the door on his dreams, which is to play big time Division I college baseball.

“We feel like we can get him there if he wants to get there....It has a lot to do with Blake having a good head on his shoulders. He’s a very intelligent kid and we think he’ll fit in well with us.”

As for Crabtree, he’s just excited to have this decision behind him and focus on his senior season.

“This helps me out a lot because I don’t have to worry about trying to go somewhere,” Crabtree said. “It takes a lot of stress off my senior year, and I can just go out there and play the game like it should be played and have fun with it.”

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