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Monday, April 15, 2024

Charleston’s Brayden Ross Signs Baseball National Letter of Intent

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The new University of Arkansas at Rich Mountain junior college baseball program added a Charleston hurler to its first group of baseball scholarship signees. Charleston pitcher Brayden Ross signed a national letter of intent to play with the Bucks in their first season in program history. Ross signed his letter in a special ceremony that was held in the Charleston High School library on Tuesday.

Charleston baseball coach Tyler Reece began the ceremony with a recap of Brayden’s high school baseball career for the Tigers. “It’s not everyday that something like this (scholarship signing) takes place in a small school. It is something we need to celebrate. Every high school athlete dreams of playing college athletics. I truly believe that everybody thinks I want the opportunity to go do that. Fortunately for Brayden, through his hard work, dedication, and God-given ability, he’s been able to accomplish that. So, congratulations to him, his family, and to Coach Spigner (Rich Mountain), and we wish you guys nothing but the best and good luck in the future.”

Coach Reece shared some statistics from Brayden’ career at Charleston. “Brayden compiled a 19-7 career win / loss record. He has a 2.03 era, and probably, my most favorite stat out of all of them, the kid has a 7-1 post season record. So that’s conference tournament, regional tournament, and state tournament. Bottom line, that tells me that anytime I can give him the baseball and say ‘go!’, odds are, we are going to be successful. He is going to go compete, and for me, that is all that I can ask. Brayden has thrown 158 innings over his first three years, and he has 199 strike outs. He is a three-time all-conference selection, three-time all-state tournament team selection, one time all-state selection, a two-time extra innings summer showcase selection, and this past year, his junior year, he was honored as the top player in our conference. The other coaches in the conference, not me, voted Brayden to this honor. Brayden has been our number one guy on the mound (in the pitching rotation) for us since his freshman year. His numbers improved each year. They took a massive jump from his sophomore year to his junior year. He had a heck of a year numbers-wise last year, and I expect it to continue this year. I truly believe we are just starting to see just how good he can be. Once he gets to college and focuses on just one sport, then I think we will begin to see how good he is going to be.”

Ross, who will play his final season this spring for the Charleston Tigers baseball team, chose Rich Mountain as a “best fit” for him. “For me, it was the best fit. I love Coach Spigner (Lance Spigner, Rich Mountain baseball coach), we played against each other (Spigner was former coach at Horatio High School.)” Ross had another offer from another junior college program. “Allen County, Kansas JUCO offered me (Allen County Community College, Iola, Kansas).

Rich Mountain coach Lance Spigner, who had high school coaching experience against Charleston and Brayden Ross while at Horatio, was attracted to recruiting Brayden at Rich Mountain from his game against Charleston in the state playoffs. “If you can’t beat them, join them. When Brayden was a ninth grader, which was 2017, he beat us out of the state tournament. So, I saw him then, and I have known his dad (B.J. Ross) for a while through coaching. I kind of kept up with him, and I got to looking around and decided I was going to take this job last spring, and he was the first person I followed as a member of our pitching staff. So, I checked back into him, saw him a few times this summer, and tried to ask him to take a leap of faith with us to help us start a new program. I would like for him to be in our starting pitching rotation. As it was said in his signing ceremony, he is an attacker (aggressively pitching in the strike zone) and I like guys that attack. I think he has tremendous up side. I think when we get him full time and a year around weight program; he’s good now, but he is going to be really good when he has the time to fully concentrate on baseball. I think the sky is going to be the limit for him. We do our background check on everybody (high school recruits). Brayden comes from good parents and I think we have nothing to be worried about. Have heard really good things about him, not only as a player but as a student. That is important to us. We are really excited about having him.”

Brayden has played football, basketball, and baseball. He has excelled at each sport, but baseball has always been his first love. “I have played (baseball) since I was young. I played travel ball and I was trying to reach my goal to play college.” When asked if playing sports other than baseball helped or hurt his development as a baseball player, Braden said, “I think playing other sports helped me a lot, football, especially. Football got me stronger. Throwing a football everyday (as quarterback for the Tigers) increased my arm strength.”

For some high school athletes, having signed to play in college before their final senior season can be both a help or a distraction. For Brayden, he looks forward to enjoying his senior baseball season now that the pressure of signing to play college ball is over. “I think since I’ve already got it over with I can focus on high school now and get ready for college after the high school season is over.”

Brayden plans to follow in his father’s foot steps, B. J. Ross, as a teacher and coach. He plans to major in education and begin his preparation to follow his father who is a long time coach and athletic director at Charleston High School. “I think I am going to go into education and coaching.”

There is no doubt that Brayden Ross is a talented, multi-sport athlete that is highly competitive and has been successful in every sport he has played. In the short time I have covered Brayden in high school football and basketball, I have known him and his family to be great people who love sports and have dedicated their lives to their callings to play and coach sports.

Congratulations to Brayden and his family on this great accomplishment. And congratulation to Coach Spigner and the new Rich Mountain baseball program as it approaches its inaugural season. I can’t think of a better player and person than Brayden Ross to start a new college baseball program!

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Jim Best
Jim Best
Jim Best is a man of many talents. His storied career in Arkansas education led him to a new passion, and hidden gifts in sports journalism.
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