Brady Ward spent a good portion of his summer pitching for the Chillicothe Paints.
The Paints, formerly a team that paid its players, now has a roster full of college players.
They do not get paid, therefore, they do not forfeit any future college eligibility.
Ward, a 2013 graduate of Miami Trace High School, will soon be returning to Tiffin University.
“I’ll be a red-shirt junior this year,” Ward said. “I had to sit out my freshman year due to a knee injury. The last two years, I’ve probably started between 10 and 12 games and appeared in close to 40.
“The Paints have been very successful,” Ward said. “But, we’re not going to make the playoffs this year.”
Ward is 3-3 this season with 4.50 earned run average.
He has appeared in 19 games (all in relief) with 22 strikeouts and 17 walks in 30 innings pitched.
The Paints are 9-19 and in last place in the Prospect League’s East Division.
“It all started out of high school,” Ward said. “I was recruited by Tiffin (Division II). It was kind of a last-minute deal. I decided I was going to go play there.
“Last summer, I spent in Virginia, playing in the Coastal Plain League,” Ward said. “I played for the Petersburg Generals.”
The CPL is another league for collegiate baseball players.
“That was really good competition with ball players from all over the United States,” Ward said.
“We get to stay with a host family,” Ward said. “This year, I stayed with a family whose son (Bryce Arledge) went to Unioto High School.”
Players on this year’s Paints team were primarily from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.
There is one player who plays for Princeton University. Other schools from which players hail include Ball State, the University of Toledo, Western Michigan, Wooster, Marietta, Ohio Wesleyan, Urbana and Dennison.
“I received a call from Brian Mannino (Paints’ Director of Baseball Operations) asking if I’d want to come play,” Ward said. “It was always a dream to play for the Paints. Growing up (in Fayette County), I used to watch their games. They used to be independent; now its a collegiate team in the Prospect League.
“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” Ward said. “It was a blessing.”
How has this season gone?
“The season’s been up and down as a team,” Ward said. “We’ve been hot at times, played really well. Other times, we’ve skidded, for sure.
“It’s a high-level of competition,” Ward said. “It’s a grind to get guys out. There are no slouches in any line-up. These guys are all very-competitive, quality ball players from their respective colleges.”
What about this past season at Tiffin?
“The season with Tiffin began on the second weekend in February in Tennessee playing Lee University,” Ward said.
The Tiffin Dragons went 21-29 this season. Ward was 1-2 at Tiffin with a 6.50 earned run average. He appeared in 15 games, starting three. He threw 36.0 innings with 26 walks and 31 strikeouts.
“We did not make the conference tournament this year,” Ward said. “We had a very competitive team. We lost a lot of close games. We’re bringing a lot of guys back next year, so, we should have a really good team. I’m looking forward to that this fall, getting back at it.”
When it comes to thanking people, Ward said it would be a very long list and he did not want to omit anyone. However, he did offer up a few thank-yous.
“I would like to thank my parents, Tom and Jomi,” Ward said. “And, my younger brother, Griff and my older brother, Cory. They’ve had a huge impact on me and they are constantly supporting me.
“I’d like to thank my high school coach, Chris Miller,” Ward said. “And Kyle McConaughey, who was the assistant coach. I make sure to stop in at the high school a few times a year and see them and catch up with them; talk about life.
“They’re more than coaches to me,” Ward said. “It was a great ride when we were in high school.”
Ward was a member of the Miami Trace baseball team that won a District championship (at the Chillicothe VA Stadium) when he was a junior. It was just the second such title in the school’s history and the first in nearly 50 years.
“I’d also like to thank my head college coach, Joe Wilkins and my pitching coach, Drew Patton,” Ward said. “I’d like to thank my summer coach, Gregg Beemer. He was the general manager of my summer travel team in high school. He’s a great guy. He helped me through the recruiting process and everything. I still stay in contact with him all the time.”
Ward will return to Tiffin University Aug. 22.
“We go right into fall baseball,” Ward said. “We have probably six weeks of that and also some individual work up until winter break. Take the winter and get yourself ready for spring, then, right back at it.
“Hopefully next summer, I’ll be playing ball somewhere,” Ward said. “I’ll graduate next spring.”
Ward is studying managerial studies with a major in business and a major in marketing.
“I’d love to play baseball as long as I can,” Ward said. “Other than that, I’d like to get into the coaching side of things, hopefully at the collegiate level. Possibly as a pitching coach, or even a head coach. It’s a hard gig, but, once you get your foot in the door, there are a lot of opportunities.”
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1