By David Fong
TROY — For Jake Daniel, the end couldn’t have come soon enough.
So the first chance the Troy High School senior baseball player had to sign with his chosen college, he jumped on it, inking his national letter of intent Thursday — during the NCAA’s early signing period — to attend school and play baseball at Ohio Dominican University.
“It feels great,” the hard-hitting first baseman said. “It’s finally done. It feels great to be a Panther. It was pretty stressful the past few years, trying to get noticed. Now I can go into my final year of high school baseball not having to worry about things.
“It was a lot different for me being a first baseman, because usually pitchers are the first position colleges look at. Then they are looking for middle infielders and outfielders. Usually, first basemen are the last guy they are looking for. You’ve got to try to market yourself a little more when you are a first baseman.”
Even so, Daniel still had plenty of colleges from which to choose.
Last season, he led the Trojans as he hit a team-high .356 with nine doubles, three triples and a home run. He also led the team with 20 runs batted in, earning second-team All-Greater Western Ohio Conference American League honors. As a sophomore, he hit .280 with four doubles and 11 RBIs, earning All-GWOC American League special mention honors.
“Jake is a hard worker,” Troy baseball coach Ty Welker said. “He’s always been a good hitter, but he’s also spent the last three years really working on his defense. He’s a good defender who can hit to all fields and hit with power. And even though he was already a good hitter, he’s the kind of kid who kept working harder to be a better hitter.”
While Daniel looked at a roughly a half-dozen schools around Ohio, he ultimately felt most comfortable at Ohio Dominican, where he’ll play for head coach Chris Antonides, himself a Troy High School graduate.
“I really liked everything about it,” Daniel said of Ohio Dominican. “I liked the size, the location, the facilities, the coaches, the stadium. They also have my major, sports management. I really liked the way the coaches interacted with me. It’s a friendly environment. To me, that’s what stood out compared to other schools.”
Welker said Ohio Dominican is getting not only a standout baseball player on the field, but an even better person off the field.
“They are getting a top-notch kid who was raised well,” he said. “That’s a credit to his entire family — to his parents, his grandparents, everyone. They did a great job raising him. He has been a leader on this team since his sophomore year.
“He’s going to do well playing for Coach Antonides, who gets a lot out of his kids and expects a lot out of his kids. He’ll get that from Jake. Jake is the kind of kid you would want your daughter to date. This program is going to miss him after this season.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong