KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The start of baseball practice is still more than a month away but Park Hill continues to make waves.
Last week the school hosted a signing ceremony for four players, bringing the total for this senior class up to eight future college players.
Coach Blaine Lewis noted the number could go up again before the school year is over.
“This senior class, the multitude of various talents is very high,” Lewis said. “These guys approved of me stepping (as coach last year) and that has been huge. This class is motivated in their own way to go on but if you ask them to do something, they will push all the way to the fence, so to speak.”
and Max Pitts,
Atkinson will be a right-handed pitcher and Pitts will be an outfield er for the Wolves, the new mascot of the Metropolitan Community College combination of Longview and Maple Woods.
Both players were members of Prodigy, a traveling team, where they coached by Jake Blackwood, an assistant coach at Maple Woods.
“I felt it was the best fit for me,” said Atkinson, who also garnered interest from William Jewell and Kansas City (Kan.) Community College. “There was more opportunity to get in there and make an impact right away.”
His arsenal includes a fastball, a two-seam fastball, curveball and slider, while he is working on a changeup.
Pitts said it was a ‘no-brainer’ to pick the Wolves when the offer came late last year. He hopes to learn more from Blackwood, a Platte County graduate who played professional baseball after a stint at Maple Woods.
One of the biggest calling cards for Pitts was to stay close to home.
“I have a single mom and I love staying here and having her cook meals, it is pretty nice,” Pitts said.
Another pitcher staying close to home will be Knight, who inked with the NAIA Pirates.
Knight noted he clicked well with pitching coach Clint Culbertson, the former head coach at Longview, and loved his plan to make Knight a better pitcher.
The right-handed hurler plays summer ball for Impact Athlete, coached by Jason Haniger, the brother of Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger.
Knight looked at College of the Ozarks and Maple Woods, but neither had the fit that Park did.
“My goal the first year is to be able to make the road team,” Knight said. “There are 50 players and 28 or 30 go on the road. That is my main goal, to be on that bus.”
Knight throws two- and four-seam fastballs, as well as a curve and a circle change.
Joe Daneff, Dodge City Community College
Daneff didn’t know much about the junior college, but learned high school teammate Trent Trammell’s brother, Ricky, played for the Conquistadors.
The Park Hill outfielder/right-handed pitcher started looking more the school and took part in a tryout.
“I texted the coach and told him I loved it and wanted to be part of the team and he said, ‘good, we have a spot for you,” Daneff said.
He will play two positions for Dodge City, which was big for him to be able to do that. When looking at other colleges, they wanted Daneff to focus on only one.
Northwest Missouri State, Highland (Kan.) Community College and Maple Woods expressed interest.