Nash Central's Page headed to Barton College for baseball
By PATRICK MASON
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
The Nash Central baseball program continues to churn out college athletes and the latest signee brings the total to five Bulldog seniors who have inked commitments to play college baseball.
Andrew Page on Wednesday signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Division II Barton College. He will likely compete as a two-way player as Barton hopes to use Page on the mound as well as in the field to take advantage of his exceptional bat.
Page is the second Nash Central player to sign with Barton, joining teammate Hunter Robinson who committed in November, and the fifth Nash Central senior to sign with three more committing to N.C. Wesleyan.
“I give a lot of credit to practice and reps. When I was young I didn’t hit that well, but I realized that I had to work at it if I wanted to be good,” Page said. “Some people have to work harder than others, and I recognized I was one of those people early on.
“I got to credit Babe Allen at Next Level (Baseball Academy) for helping me, and just staying in the cage and hitting tons and tons of baseballs and practicing the right way to do it.”
Page is the Bulldogs cleanup hitter and is batting .396, has 19 hits and 18 RBI. He is in the top three on the team in each of those categories.
Nash Central coach Willie Langley views Page as one of the team’s better hitters, and marveled at the work ethic put in by Page which has led to improvements to his game.
“Any kid that has dreams of playing college baseball should look at Andrew,” Langley said. “When he came into the program he was a solid baseball player but he has willed himself into one of our best hitters.”
In Tuesday’s 6-3 win over North Johnston, which entered the game with a 15-0 record, Page recorded a late, timely hit with a runner on second base. Langley opted to bunt the runner over from first to second ahead of Page’s at-bat with a feeling that the senior would find a way to get the run in.
Sure enough, Page singled up the middle and batted in the run.
“He was so clutch on last year’s team, he would just come up with the big hit when we need it,” Langley said. “That has carried over to this year, too. We bunted a runner over late (Tuesday) and put him on second base because I knew if we put a runner on second with Andrew up he would score him, and he did.
Page explained that at the start of last season he batted near the bottom of the order, either the No. 7 or No. 8 spot. There, he saw a heavy dose of fastballs as opposing pitchers went right after the bottom third of the lineup.
Always thinking at the plate about situations and what to expect out of the pitcher’s hand, Page caught on quick and began hitting everything. Soon, Langley moved Page to the No. 5 hole where he routinely batted with runners on base.
Now, as the No. 4 hitter, Page is seeing less fastballs and more offspeed pitches like curveballs and changeups. It hasn’t been a problem.
“It’s harder to hit but once you see it, then a lot of it is knowing what situations they will throw that pitch,” Page explained. “Recognizing what is coming and knowing what to do with it when it does is the key. A lot of hitting is mental, maybe more than it is physically hitting the ball.”
On the mound, Page has two starts this season and one win. He has what Langley describes as “dirty breaking stuff” but isn’t needed as often with the wealth of pitching arms on the team. And when he’s not pitching, Page plays a strong first base and offers a steadying presence in the middle of the Nash Central lineup.
“He’s a heck of a hitter. When he comes up to bat, especially with runners in scoring position, I feel like something is about to happen,” Langley said. “It’s never a popup or weak ground ball, but it’s a rocket right up the middle. Even in batting practice, he beats that L-screen to death. I wish more guys would focus on that, but he gets it.”