Five games in, Bryant Hornets head baseball coach Travis Queck knew he had a strong pitching staff and a few of them hadn’t even taken the mound yet.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see them,” he mentioned.
Five games in is when the coronavirus struck, and all spring sports were cancelled. Seniors were robbed of their final high school seasons. And those young arms, including four pitchers that were set to sign National letters of intent for college on Wednesday, had to wait and hope they’d get to pitch for their teams during the summer.
But, due to quarantines, Will Hathcote and Aidan Adams were unable to sign and will do so after they serve their time.
Austin Ledbetter and Garrett Wilson, who each missed even those five games last spring, were able to do so, however. Ledbetter, the son of Lee and Shannon Ledbetter, who verbally committed to the University of Arkansas as a freshman, made it official. Wilson, the son of Jamie and Chris Wilson, signed with junior college powerhouse Connors State College of Muskogee, Okla.
“We just wanted to get them ready for conference,” Queck said of those nagging injuries. “In fact, when we turned around, right when Covid was hitting, we were about to get these guys back. So, we were really, really about to ramp up. We knew what we had. We just had to get there to see them.”
Thankfully, the lockdowns eased up and they were able to pitch during the summer.
“They both had a great summer,” Queck said.
And, hopefully, the Hornets will be allowed to play a full season next spring.
“We’ve got Will and Aidan and Turner Seelinger,” the coach noted, along with Ledbetter and Wilson. “We’ve got a slew of pitchers that are ready to compete this year. They’re going to be battling for innings.”
Ledbetter, who is also a record-setting quarterback for the Hornets’ football team, said he never considered any other school.
“Arkansas’ home,” he said. “It’s the state school. I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else. When (Razorback head coach Dave) Van Horn came to me when I was in the ninth grade, I just knew that this is the place I wanted to be. I had cousins that played at Arkansas, D.J. and Blake Baxindale, and I just want to call it home for the next four years.”
Said Wilson, “I picked Conners because of Coach Keith, really. He’s sent 150 people to the MLB draft. Hopefully, I can be one of them.”
“Both of these guys are electric right-handed pitchers,” Queck said. “Guys that can locate multiple pitches. They have a high, high ceiling.
“Garrett, you’re talking about a guy that’s over the top, downhill,” he related. “Him being 6’3”, he’s coming downhill at those hitters with his fastball around 88 (mph) with ease. That’s why I say the sky’s the limit. Put a little weight on this dude and a little maturation physically and it could be a lot better situation for this young man.”
Of Ledbetter, he said, “Austin’s a guy that’s been pegged by a bunch of people for a long time. So, he’s kind of had the bull’s eye on his chest since he was a little kid. What we’ve asked him to do, he’s thrived.
“I can’t say enough about either one of those young men,” the coach concluded.