Ardmore senior Jake Patterson rose from the chair that he was seated in front of the trophy case at Ardmore High School and briefly spoke to a large group of friends, family and coaches about his decision to sign with Eastern Oklahoma State College to play baseball.
“I’m excited to be playing at the next level,” he said. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
A round of applause ensued.
Patterson’s journey to Eastern began in late October, when he made his official visit to the campus, located in Wilburton, and spoke with Mountaineers coach Craig Price and his staff.
“They have good coaches and they have a great program and they send guys to good four-year schools afterward,” Patterson said. “That was the key.”
It helps him that he already knows a few Mountaineers players -- including his good friend and Latta High School graduate Austin Simpson, a freshman who is in his first season playing for Eastern.
“He (Simpson) said that it’s a really great program and that they have great coaches and great team chemistry,” Patterson said. “That’s always important. I like to win. I like to compete and get ready to hard. It’s a job. I’m ready to compete.”
Last year, Patterson went 6-2 with 75 strikeouts to go along with a 2.2 earned-run average.
The competitive nature that Patterson, the All-Ardmoreite Pitcher of the Year his junior season a first-team selection in the outfield as a sophomore, has brought to the mound in Ardmore should serve him well for an Eastern program, guided by head coach Craig Price, has compiled a solid recruiting class for 2016.
“We’ve got a big recruiting class coming in,” Patterson said. “We’re trying to go to Grand Junction for the College World Series. So, that’s always the goal. They’ve been close the last couple of years. We’re going to try to make it there next year, and I think that we’ve got a great shot.”
Academics are important to Patterson, which was another reason that Eastern matched what he was looking for in a junior college.
“They have good academics. I think they led the conference last year as far as academic kids. I don’t know what I’m going to major in yet, but they do have good academics. I’m excited about that.”
Patterson spoke about the positive influence that baseball Will Trisciani, Vic Brumley, Paul Elkouri and Mike Word have had in his development as a baseball player.
“They’ve taught me baseball from a different perspective in a lot of ways,” Patterson said. “They all taught me hard work. Coach Word is a good pitching coach. Coach T and coach Elkouri were good head coaches. Coach Brumley has been there since I was in the seventh grade. He’s been a big influence on me. I’ve also had trainers who have helped me along the way.”