By Dave Morrison
CLEAR FORK – Bradie Vance grew up playing baseball in the county where hoops is king.
He even tried basketball for a time, dressing for a state tournament game and playing in a regional championship.
He was also the quarterback on the Westside football team and threw for over 2,000 yards during his career.
But baseball was his love.
On Wednesday he realized a dream to further his career when he signed a national letter of intent to play at WVU Tech.
“It’s close to home and I really like the idea of not being far away,” Vance said. “Being able to play baseball this close to home is really a dream come true for me ever since I was a little kid.”
Vance is hitting .300 for the Renegades with four doubles, two triples and two home runs.
The senior is also versatile. This season he has played every position except center field and he will be there before the season ends.
“I’ve played him at first, third, shortstop, second. I think he said the only place he hasn’t played is centerfielder and I told him I’m going to play him in center just so he can say he played every position
“He is versatile and he swings a good bat. He throws the ball well so maybe he can pitch. He’s just a good utility man and I’m sure he will be solid anywhere they put him.”
WVU Tech coach Lawrence Nesselrodt said he became aware of Vance after a showcase event hosted by the Golden Bears. And it was that versatility is something Tech liked when it looked at Vance.
“He certainly stood out as far as his athletic ability,” Nesselrodt said. “But also his versatility. He can go on the mound and he can play positions both. He swung the bat well enough that we wanted to follow up on him.”
He fits the mold of a Tech player, the coach said.
“Certainly as an athlete he is the kind of guy that projects,” Nesselrodt said. “He’s got good size already and we think he is going to to get bigger and stronger. Where he fits in we will wait and see how that evolves.”
Chris Blankenship is the only other Westside player to play baseball in college, playing four years at Fairmont State.
Vance hopes he can be a pioneer of sorts for the younger players in the Westside program.
“I sure hope so,” Vance said. “I talk to them, encourage them, help them out every chance I get. I hope I’m that person that they can look up to as a senior role model.”
Warrix thinks Vance will have a great career at Tech, based on the things he has seen from the senior during his career at the school.
“We’re excited for him,” Warrix said. “He’s been a great kid. He’s very coachable and always a team leader on the field. It shows our younger kids what hard work can do. He’s been in the weight room and playing baseball all his life. It shows that there are opportunities out there if you put in the hard work.”