By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
June 29 will be a day that Alex Sears won’t soon forget.
“I was just doing normal stuff that day,” Sears said. “Then they called me.”
“They” were the University of Louisville, and as Marlon Brando said in “The Godfather,” they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“They said they had a spot open on their roster and they would try to get me in,” Sears, who graduated from South Laurel, said. “At first I didn’t think they would be able to do it, but the fact that I had a high ACT score helped and they got me in.”
While at South Laurel, Sears was mostly known for his slick fielding at shortstop and one of the most feared bats in the 13th Region. But it was his ability on the mound that got the UofL coaching staffs attention.
“I threw in a couple of showcases and I threw for the coaches at Bellarmine,” Sears said. “My velocity was pretty good and that got me a lot of attention.”
But it wasn’t until his father, Rod, sent in an email to Louisville that including a pitching video that the Cards really took notice. It did surprise Sears that Louisville wanted him as a pitcher.
“They had all the other positions filled and had a pitching spot open,” Sears said. “It’s exciting. I hadn’t really pitched that much in high school until this past season.”
Sears had battled different injuries since his middle school days, but he said that never deterred him from wanting to play in college.
“I always had it in my mind that I was going to play in college at some level,” Sears said. “I wasn’t going to let a couple of injuries keep me from playing in college.”
Sears said he probably won’t be in the starting rotation as a freshman, but he has been told that he will see action as a mid-week middle reliever. “They said I would probably throw two or three innings a week. I’m pretty happy about that.”
Sears had several other schools interested in him, but “it’s hard to turn down Louisville,” even for a University of Kentucky fan.
“If Louisville calls you you can’t turn them down,” Sears said. “I’m just trading in one Cardinal uniform for another. I’ll remain a Cardinal.”
Sears said he owes a lot to his father, who was also an assistant coach at South Laurel.
“If it hadn’t of been for him sending that video to Louisville I don’t think that they would have wanted me,” Sears said. “They know that I can hit but they didn’t know that I could pitch.” And he noted that he will still get time in the battling cage, so hitting somewhere down the road might not be out of the question.
Sears said that he will miss a lot of things about playing for South Laurel.
“I loved high school baseball,” Sears said. “When they moved me up in the eighth grade, I told all my friends at the middle school how awesome it was to strap it on against good competition. It was a good culture at South Laurel. I played behind Luke Rakestraw, and he showed me how to carry myself as a high school player, and I’ve tried to help others the way I was helped.”
Sears, who plans on majoring in exercise science and become a physical therapist, said he knows he still has some work to do to succeed at the collegiate level.
“I’ll need a lot of work on my pitching mechanics,” Sears said. “I need to learn more command on my breaking ball and maybe pick up another pitch.”
But he’s looking forward to the next step in his baseball career.
“I think Louisville is a good fit,” Sears said.