Late last fall, Poteau High School senior baseball player Blake Roley had “Tommy John” surgery to repair an injured pitching arm. So often, such setbacks turn college coaches off athletes. Not so for Eastern Oklahoma State College Baseball Coach Craig Price.
Price signed Roley Monday morning at Poteau High School.
“That was a non-factor,” Price said. “Pretty much the way medical technology is today, his surgery was a non-factor. A lot of kids actually come back and throw it even harder. That never entered our minds in the recruiting process.”
“God put the right people in my life (in the surgery), and (Price) is willing to take a chance on me,” Roley said. “I'm looking forward to it.”
“It's glad to know that before he had the arm injury, he did the job for us on the mound,” Poteau Coach Ronnie Sockey said. “This year (in which he cannot pitch), he's stepped up for us and has done the job at the plate. He's a big part of our offense this year. He's our leading hitter in average and home runs. So, he's shown that he can do more than just pitch. Hopefully, he'll get a chance to do both at Eastern.”
Eastern's rich program and location made it the choice for the Pirate senior.
“It's close to home, and it gave me a homey feeling,” Roley said about the Wilburton institution. “They have a great program. They send out a lot of Division I players. They have such an elite program.”
The fact that Roley can make an impact immediately with the Mountaineers was not overlooked, either.
“That was another thing,” he said. “I can go in there and do my best, and pitch to the best of my abilities.”
“We have a small roster of 28 kids, and so every kid is going to play,” Price said. “We plan on him being an impact player for us.”
Last summer, Roley's pitching prowess caught Price's eye.
“One of the things that interested us was his arm strength,” he said. “He got it up to 90 mph last summer — one time he got it up to 92. He was probably one of the hardest-throwing players we dealt with all summer. That was intriguing, and the fact that he just lives 45 minutes away, it always helps if you can get the good local players. So, we're excited.”
Being close to home will make it easy for fans to see Roley play.
“He's getting to play at a good place locally,” Sockey said. “His family and friends can go watch him play.”