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Austin Perry said he couldn’t resist the lure of the Big Blue.
Perry, a senior at Collins, committed to play baseball for the University of Kentucky on Monday.
“Ever since I stepped on a baseball field, when I was three years old, it’s always been a dream of mine to play at UK,” Perry said. “It’s always been a dream to go to UK.…I’ve grown up in a family that bleeds blue.”
Perry was a standout pitcher for the Titans last season, posting a 3-2 record and a 2.48 earned-run average for a 22-11 team. In 53 2/3 innings, Perry struck out 57 and walked only eight as he relied on a 2-seam fastball that has topped out at 88 miles an hour on the radar gun.
“Austin has worked very hard over the years and has earned everything he has achieved,” Titans Coach Roy Bailey said. “I am proud that he set a goal and did what it took to reach that goal. After being able to commit to UK this early, I am sure that he will be able to focus on having a great senior year.”
Perry said UK coaches saw him pitch at the 15th annual Perfect Game WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., in late October, then he met with them last Saturday when he visited and toured the campus and baseball facilities before casting his lot with the Wildcats earlier this week.
He is the second player from Collins and the American Legion Post 37 team to commit to Kentucky in the past month and a half. In late September, Tyler Tipton, a 2011 Collins grad and a sophomore shortstop at Itawamba (Miss.) Community College, committed to the Cats.
“It’s something you want to do, play [in college] with buddies you grew up with back home,” said Perry, who plans on majoring in business in college. “Playing at UK was something we’d never thought would happen though.
“I just have to give credit to all my coaches for helping me and God for opening doors for me.”
Before heading to Lexington, though, Perry still has a senior season to play.
“It definitely gives you a little confidence and pushes you to work harder and step your game up even more to get ready for the next level,” he said. “Definitely I want to improve myself as a player. I want to help my team, and we want to make a statement and carry it on to the state tournament this year.”