About three months ago, Lewis County’s Bryce Wallingford wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue playing baseball after high school.
Some recruiting by his brother Seth and winning games helped make that decision a little easier as Wallingford signed his letter of intent with Berea on Friday to continue his baseball and academic career.
“Definitely playing this year helped. We’ve won more games. Of course when you’re winning it’s more fun,” Wallingford said, who had to endure a 6-24 season his junior year. “I realized this year I didn’t want to let it go and wanted to keep playing. I’m kind of having a good year and wanted to keep it going I guess.”
He’ll also have the chance to play with his brother, Seth, who will be a junior on the team for the Mountaineers.
“That’s always fun. I get to play with him one more time. The most fun years of high school sports, basketball, baseball was playing with him. I am kind of excited for that. I know he’s going to get on my nerves, but I’m still excited for it,” Wallingford said.
Seth was instrumental in getting him to Berea. He enticed the coaches to take a look at him and with Bryce’s versatility it was a tough pass. Bryce has been key in the leadoff spot and playing shortstop for the 12-8 Lions. He’s batting .362, second best on the team and leads the team in on-base percentage at .525. He’s walked more than he’s struck out and hopes to continue to keep things rolling as the Lions enter the final stretch of the season before the postseason with a tough matchup against Greenup County on May 21.
Seth played catcher and some left field for the Mountaineers during his sophomore year, appearing in 18 games. There’s no doubt the importance the older brother will have for the transition into college for the younger one.
“For me it’s making sure he gets the most out of the experience. He’s quiet, likes to stand in the corner and I’m the total opposite. I want to make sure he gets the full experience. High school and college is the most exciting time of your life, I don’t want him to be so enthralled in what he wants to do that he forgets to go out and hang out with the guys or whatever,” Seth said. “Next year I want to make sure I can drag him to everything I can.”
It won’t be their first go around playing on the same team. The two played on the diamond for the Lions during the ‘15-‘16 seasons. One game featured Seth catching and Bryce pitching as Bryce pitched a four-hitter in a 4-1 win over Bracken County. Similar to real life, Seth called the shots and Bryce followed through and executed it.
“We actually hated playing with each other growing up. We’re different personalities. But over time it got fun. He got to pitch, I got to catch. It was one of those things where you don’t really notice something that is going on until afterwards,” Seth said.
Although Bryce probably won’t be looking at a pitching role at Berea, he’ll be looking at a variety of other ones. Bryce said he’ll play anywhere they need him to although his defined role at the next level hasn’t been discussed yet.
“I’ve alwyas had coaches tell me the more positions you play, the better. As long as you can play anywhere, I feel like I’ll definitely be able to play somewhere,” Bryce said.
Academically, Bryce plans on majoring in technolgoy apply design and then get into architecture.
He still has some unfinished business left on the diamond with the Lions.
“We’d like to end the season on a winning streak. Hopefully get to region and then make it to state,” Bryce said as the matchup with Greenup quickly approaches. “It’s on our home field, so you never know.”
The Lions will hit the field Saturday as they participate in the David Iery Classic. The four-team tournament features the Lions, who open up with Fleming County at 1 p.m. If they win that one, they’ll take on the East Carter-Mason County winner in the championship game later in the day.