Thursday, November 24, 2011
Fitzpatrick going to Arkansas St.
By BARRY BURLESON
November 16 was indeed a special day for Kevin Fitzpatrick.
The Marshall Academy senior signed a college baseball scholarship with Arkansas State University.
“I’ve always wanted this opportunity,” he said. “I’ve worked hard at it. I’ve been playing since I was 3.
“I’m grateful. I’m blessed to be in the position.”
In his junior season at MA, Fitzpatrick hit .453 with 38 runs-batted-in and four home runs. He was 32 of 33 in stolen-base attempts.
He plays shortstop for the Patriots.
“Defensively, he’s by far the best I’ve ever had,” coach Bart Jenkins said. “And he’s equally talented when it comes to hitting the baseball.
“He can play baseball as long as he wants. I feel he can really thrive at the next level.”
Fitzpatrick said Arkansas State, located in Jonesboro, seemed like the best fit. The head coach is Tommy Raffo, a former player and assistant coach at Mississippi State, where he played in one College World Series and coached in three.
“I am very impressed with Coach Raffo,” Fitzpatrick said. “They recruited me hard and showed a lot of interest. I’m really thankful for that – it showed how much they wanted me – and that was a big part of my decision.”
He said he is excited about getting a quality education, and he hopes to play immediately for the Red Wolves as a freshman.
“My ultimate goal is to get drafted (by a major league baseball team),” Fitzpatrick said.
Coach Raffo is entering his fourth season at Arkansas State, a Division I school and member of the Sun Belt Conference. The Red Wolves have won four post-season games in his tenure, and prior to that the school had not won a post-season game since 1998.
“I feel like our program is going in the right direction,” he said.
Fitzpatrick is one of five high school players already committed to the Red Wolves.
“First of all, Kevin is an outstanding person,” Raffo said. “During the communication process, the more we talked, it really stuck in my mind about his tremendous upbringing. Obviously, a lot of people have cared about him.”
He said Fitzpatrick, who also stars on the football field, basketball court and track at MA, is a “very gifted athlete.”
“He brings a lot to the table athletically,” Raffo said. “In his development, there is a high ceiling.
“I really like him as an infielder. He has tremendous range. He’s really fun to watch. Offensively, he’s improving, too.”
Raffo said it’s also obvious that Fitzpatrick is a team player because of the success of the entire MA athletic program.
“He has a great head on his shoulders,” Raffo said. “Team is very important to him. I’m very impressed with that, and that’s the type player we want.
“I feel it’s the right fit. We’re very pleased and excited.”
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