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Hays High's Parker takes time, chooses Barton CC

7/9/2014

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

Both of Kade Parker's brothers once were outstanding athletes at Hays High School. Neither went on to play college athletics, an opportunity Parker wasn't about to pass on as well.

"I saw my brothers kind of regret not going on and playing any sports," Parker said. "I didn't want to regret that either. It's always kind of been a goal or a dream of mine going on to play baseball after high school."

Parker, a spring graduate from Hays High, took a big step toward realizing that dream Monday by committing to play baseball at Barton Community College in Great Bend. Parker, who expected to receive his letter of intent in the mail today, will be on scholarship with the Cougars.

It was the only offer Parker had available, although he had turned down a few others earlier in the year.

"I'm very happy for him that he's going to get an opportunity. He wasn't sure if he wanted to go to the next level and give it a shot," Hays High baseball coach Frank Leo said. "But midway through the spring when he was having a great spring, he made that decision. 'Coach, I think I want to try it.' Barton is going to get a good lefty. A competitor. He is not afraid. He's got ice water in his veins."

Parker, who was expected to be the Indians' No. 2 pitcher behind Dodge City Community College signee Layne Downing in the spring, proved to be a dominant force for Hays High, earning Western Athletic Conference player of the year honors.

He finished the spring season with a 0.81 earned-run average, going 4-3 with six starts and eight appearances on the mound for the 13-8 Indians. Parker also was one of the Indians' best bats, hitting .400 with a team-best 26 hits. He expects to stick with just pitching at Barton.

"It was an honor. I couldn't have done it without my defense behind me, pitching-wise," Parker said of his WAC player of the year recognition.

"I visited a few different schools, and I kind of heard of the coach and talked to some other people about (first-year Barton coach Brent Biggs), and everyone told me good things about him," Parker said. "I went down and visited Barton and met him, liked him, liked their school and everything on the campus. Kind of made up my mind where I wanted to go."

Parker is enjoying a strong summer playing for the Hays Eagles Legion baseball team, which is 23-6 after winning the Wild West Festival tournament this past week. He is 2-3 with a 4.07 ERA and leads the team with 28 runs batted in and a .444 average at the plate.

"Kade came a long way this year in the spring. He made the kind of jump that you hope seniors will make," Leo said. "He can play some defense at first base and occasionally hit, but I imagine he's going down there to pitch. A lefty coming out of the pen; maybe a lefty starter. He's got that knuckle ball, and that knuckle ball makes his fastball look quicker. Real happy for Kade. I'm glad he's going to have an opportunity and chance to move on."

Parker will join the team mid-August and take part in its fall season. The spring season will get started in February.

"I talked to a few people, and they told me, 'Don't rush your choice. Make sure you see all the choices of schools and everything. Think it over. Don't rush into something that you are going to regret in the end,' " Parker said. "So I waited a little while and finally came up with my decision. ... I'm excited. Ready for it to start."