VERSAILLES – Versailles senior Noah Richard committed to Owens Community College on Saturday morning, which he hopes is a step toward playing Division I college baseball.
“It feels awesome,” Richard said of continuing his baseball career in college. “I’m really blessed. Just all the hard work and dedication is just finally paying off.”
Richard, the son of Mark and Peggi Richard, said Owens will be a good place to develop as a pitcher the next couple years before transferring to a four-year university.
“It just made a lot of sense with the playing time and financials and being able to transfer to D-I after two years,” he said of choosing Owens.
Richard has started his senior year of high school strong, posting a 2.90 ERA in 9 2/3 innings so far for Versailles. In his three appearances this season the right-hander has a 2-0 record.
“He came in a freshman kind of undersized a little bit and hit a growth spurt, you know, I think it was last year,” Versailles baseball coach Ryan Schlater said. “And he’s been really good for us on the mound. Offensively I think he’s hitting over .440 this year. It’s tremendous that he can get to play at the next level.”
Being a late bloomer, Schlater said, Richard will continue developing and has a chance to become an even better player.
“I think he has a lot of room for development,” the Versailles coach said. “He’s kind of a late bloomer. Myself and his dad were talking a couple weeks ago, and he’s just now starting to get to that point where his brothers (Zac, Jon and Damien) all played at Xavier, and he’s a little bit late bloomer in that, but he can gain another 3 or 4 miles an hour on his fastball. They had him earlier at 83, 84 on his fastball earlier this year so he definitely can have a lot of room for improvement to get better, too.”
Owens will restart its baseball team during the 2018-19 school year as a member of National Junior College Athletic Association Division III. The Express previously suspended its baseball and softball programs as part of budget constraints and didn’t field a team the past two years.
Richard, who plans to study business in college, wants to establish himself as one of Owens’ top starting pitchers.
“I definitely want to be one of the top three pitchers, be a weekend starter, and play as best as I can and do a lot of innings,” he said.
Schlater said Richard has the ability to be an effective pitcher at the college level.
“He’s kind of effectively wild is what I like to say, but he has a real heavy fastball that ties guys up,” Schlater said. “They don’t really hit him hard very much and then he comes back and he’s always just around the plate.”
Before heading off to college, Richard hopes for a strong finish to his high school career. The Tigers are 7-0 and are looking to contend for an Ohio High School Athletic Association state championship.
“We’re looking to make a deep run, maybe stay undefeated and get a state championship in the end,” Richard said.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.