Two Washington High School seniors made important decisions concerning their future after high school when they signed letters of intent to play baseball at the University of Rio Grande.
Caden Cluxton and Aaron Greer inked the letters Wednesday morning in something of a dual press announcement in front of the trophy case just outside the WHS gymnasium (a case to which has recently been added a Travis Shaw Boston Red Sox jersey to go alongside his dad, Jeff’s, jersey from the Los Angeles Dodgers).
The pair were joined for the occasion by their parents, a sister, a set of grandparents (Dean and Shirley Cluxton) a few friends, Washington High School head baseball coach Tyler Rhodus, Athletic Director Jon Creamer and Rio Grande head baseball coach Brad Warnimont.
“Caden plays center and Aaron pitches for us,” Rhodus said. “Aaron plays right field for us when he’s not pitching. Aaron will do some (designated hitting) as well.
“Both of them came up to the varsity as sophomores,” Rhodus said. “This will be my third year coaching them. They started on the varsity as sophomores. Both of them are hard working kids. They hustle and do anything they’re asked to help the team.
“They’re fun kids to coach,” Rhodus said. “We feel like we’re in a position to win when they’re on the field. When Aaron’s pitching, we feel positive about that.
“Caden’s our lead-off hitter,” Rhodus said. “He has a lot of speed. He was First Team, All-District last year; he batted over .400.
“Aaron gives us a lot of power in the middle of the order,” Rhodus said. “We’re looking for that again this year. We’re going to lean heavily on those two, and the rest of our seniors, and see where that takes us.”
“His foot-speed, that’s the thing,” Warnimont said when asked about Cluxton. “He can play the infield and outfield. I love running the bases aggressively, so, I think he fits into our scheme of baseball; bunting and running; playing small ball. Kids that can run want to go to programs where you’re going to be aggressive on the bases, so, he’s a great fit for us.
“Getting accustomed to the speed of the college game, that’s the biggest thing,” Warnimont said. “I think their impact will grow in the program. They’ll have an opportunity to come in and compete.
“We’re weren’t real talented (in pitching),” Warnimont said. “(Greer’s) coming in, velocity-wise, in the low 80s. He’s already right in the mix with the guys that are in my program. There’s a difference between pitching and throwing. The kids I have are pitchers; they command the zone, they command three pitches. We’re looking for him to push those guys.
“Once they focus on one sport, and we’ll have them the year around, I think you’ll see them blossom,” Warnimont said.
Greer said he would be interested in studying law and/or criminal justice.
“I want to thank my pitching coach, Trey Fausnaugh,” Greer said. “My travel coach, Randy Abrahams; coach Rhodus and coach (Jeff) Shaw.”
Greer said that a couple of his career highlights include the team advancing to the District finals his freshman year; being part of the tri-champions in the SCOL for 2015 (along with Clinton-Massie and Miami Trace).
“I’d like to thank all my coaches,” Cluxton said. “I’d like to thank Coach Warnimont for giving me the opportunity and my dad, for teaching me pretty much everything I know about the game.
“I’d like to thank Coach Rhodus,” Cluxton said. “He’s helped me a great amount. He’s given me confidence to get out there and just do the best I can.”
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1