Haynes to play college baseball
Kelby Haynes' baseball career began at age 4 and it doesn't look like it will end anytime soon. On Monday, the Cassville High School senior realized his dream of playing college baseball when he signed a letter of intent with College of the Ozarks.
The signing ceremony took place in the CHS library and was witnessed by several coaches who have helped Haynes hone his baseball skills over the years.
John Hartley, new head baseball coach at C of O, was present to welcome Haynes to the program while CHS head coach Rod Hemphill, CHS pitching coach Kyle Wood and American Legion baseball coaches Jeremy Marple and Jerry Marple looked on.
Coach Hartley said he has been competing against Haynes for a number of years as coach of the Willard High School baseball program and now is looking forward to having the talented player on his side.
"I think Kelby will make an immediate contribution on the mound," said Haynes. "We will also let him compete for other positions."
Hartley is impressed with Haynes' pitching skills. He said the senior has good velocity on his fastball and good command of his offspeed pitches.
"Kelby has good control of the strike zone, and overall as a player, I like his attitude," said Hartley. "He's a very talented athlete."
Haynes said he chose College of the Ozarks because he liked the college, liked the coach and liked being close to home.
"I'm a little nervous but I'm excited too," said Haynes. "I'm ready for (my college career) to start even though I don't want this season to end."
Haynes, who's been playing baseball since he was 4, is a four-year starter on the Wildcat baseball squad and a five-year member of the Cassville American Legion baseball team.
As a sophomore, Haynes earned All-Big 8 first team honors as a pitcher and received All-Big 8 honorable mention recognition as short stop. During his junior year, Haynes was named to the All-Big 8 first team as a designated hitter and to the All-Big 8 second team as a pitcher. This year's conference awards will be announced next week.
Coach Hemphill, who is a C of O graduate, said he believes Haynes will have a good opportunity to see playing time as a freshman.
"I'm happy for Kelby," said Coach Hemphill. "I think he has a great chance as a freshman to play right away."
Hemphill said there are several qualities Haynes possesses that will help him succeed at the collegiate level.
"Kelby has a presence on the field and knows what to do and when to do it," said Hemphill. "His mentality, his effort and his skill level are all things he has going for him."
Coach Wood, who has served as Haynes' pitching coach this season, agrees that Haynes is definitely college material.
"Kelby always gives us a chance to win," said Coach Wood. "He's determined to stay out there as long as he's needed."
This season, Coach Wood and Coach Hemphill looked to Haynes and six other seniors for leadership, and as a result of their guidance, the 2008 squad was able to win the Big 8 Conference title outright and also beat Carl Junction at home for the first time in Hemphill's tenure at Cassville.
"Kelby is definitely one of our leaders this year," said Hemphill.
College of the Ozarks is an NAIA school that competes in the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference. Haynes is the son of Jim and Becky Haynes, of Cassville.