3 more sign college grants

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By Josh Cook

A trio of high school student-athletes signed earlier this week to continue their academic and athletic careers.


Shelby County senior Nathan Hayes signed Monday to play baseball for St. Catharine College, Shelby County senior Samantha Orange signed Tuesday to play women’s soccer at Kentucky Christian University and Collins senior Nate Clifton signed Wednesday to play baseball for Milligan (Tenn.) College.


Nathan Hayes

Hayes, a pitcher-outfielder, had a season-ending knee injury in early April, but before he did, he pitched one of the best games of his career. On April 5 against Rowan County, in the Henry County/Shelby County Wood Bat Classic, Hayes, a left-hander, tossed a 1-hitter, while walking two and striking out three in the Rockets’ 5-1 victory.  

“That very much symbolized his effort for Shelby County in his three years,” Shelby County Coach Bart “Rudy” Roettger said. “He didn’t overpower anyone, but kept the ball down, worked fast and threw strikes.”

In four appearances this season Hayes went 2-0 with a 1.08 earned-run average.

“We could always count on Nathan to give us everything he had,” Roettger said. “We call him ‘Horse,’ because he was our workhorse.

“The word overachiever has been used a lot with Nathan Hayes, and that does him a disservice. It devalues his work ethic, his heart, his pride. Anyone who knows Nathan knows he exhibits those characteristics.”

Hayes, who started playing tee-ball in Bagdad when he was 3, was a 3-year varsity player for the Rockets. Last season he went 1-1 with a 2.21 ERA in 10 appearances.

Hayes said he chose St. Catharine because, “I’m not a ‘big school’ kind of guy.”

There he said he plans on majoring in sports leadership and “would like to be a coach” down the road.


Samantha Orange

Orange was a 4-year varsity player, starting off on offense before ending up as a defender, for the Rockets.

Orange, also a member of the track & field team, said she chose Kentucky Christian because, “It’s a Christian school, and I wanted a Bible degree.”

Orange, who has a 3.7 grade-point average, said she plans to major in biology, then get a masters degree in public health before pursuing a career in epidemiology.


Nate Clifton

Center fielder Clifton is one of the big reasons why the Titans began the season 20-0 and entered Thursday night’s regular-season finale 27-6 and ranked in a pair state polls. Through Wednesday, Clifton had a .400 batting average with 33 runs scored and 32 RBIs.

Clifton said he chose to play for the Buffaloes because, “I went for a visit there in December, and everything went real well. The coaching staff was incredible, and so were the guys on the team. Everybody was super nice. I went down there and felt like I was at home.”

Clifton, who has a 3.6 grade-point average, said he plans to major in business.