Sports

Raiders pitcher commits to WKU

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Warren East baseball player Ross Hammonds knows he'll be staying close to home after high school.

The senior pitcher has verbally committed to Western Kentucky and is expected to sign with the Hilltoppers during the November signing period.

“Western was where I wanted to go to school,” Hammonds said. “I wanted to stay in town and am happy I've got the chance to.”

Hammonds has been a mainstay for the Raiders since his freshman year.

As a pitcher, Hammonds has 16 varsity wins and owns the school strikeout record with 196 over 182 innings.

Hammonds also has a career batting average of .346, although Hammonds is expected to primarily be used as a pitcher at Western.

“With (the Western coaches') help and knowledge, he'll be able to learn from them and I think he's going to turn out to be a really good player at the D-I level,” East coach Wes Sanford said. “It may take him some time, but he'll end up being a pretty good little pitcher for them.”

Hammonds is expected to be the first East baseball player to play at Western since Nathan Isenberg played at WKU from 1997-99.

“It's awesome,” Sanford said. “He's worked hard and coaches before have worked hard to get him better as a player. He's put in his time, and from a program standpoint, that's awesome to have someone committed to a Division I program going into his senior year.”

Hammonds is most relieved to have his decision over with before taking the mound next year.

But Hammonds didn't feel pressure during his junior campaign. Whenever WKU coaches were at a game, Hammonds wasn't aware of them.

“The funny thing is they don't make themselves noticeable,” Hammonds said. “I wouldn't know until after the game that they were there. (Verbally committing takes) a little bit off my shoulders. You always do the best you can but knowing you don't have to impress coaches.”

Hammonds originally became acquainted with WKU coach Chris Finwood while attending fall camp last year. Western went 22-30 last year and finished eighth in the Sun Belt Conference.

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