Lawrence County standout signs with Rio
LOUISA, Ky. – University of Rio Grande head baseball coach Brad Warnimont has announced the signing of Lawrence County High School standout Clark Rice for the 2014 season.
Rice is a 6-foot-0, 195-pound catcher for head coach Travis Feltner’s Bulldogs, who took a 21-11 record into 57th District Tournament play on Tuesday night.
Rice is batting .354 with 18 runs batted in. He has collected 34 hits on the season, including nine doubles, while also sporting a .448 slugging percentage and a .462 on-base percentage.
“It’s hard to comprehend all of it,” Rice said, when asked to describe the emotion of the moment. “I’m excited, I’m sad – I know it’s coming to an end here at Lawrence County, but I’m also getting ready to start a new chapter of my life at Rio Grande and I’m very excited about that.”
Rice has 12 multi-hit games this season, including a three-hit, five-RBI performance in a win over East Carter earlier this month.
“I started to get some calls at the beginning of this year and that got me excited about it,” said Rice, referring to the possibility of continuing his career collegiately.. “It’s always been my dream, but I really got focused this year on making it happen.”
Warnimont said that Rice will provide immediate depth at the catching position and, depending on how quickly he adapts to his new surroundings, he could see significant playing time as a freshman.
“Defensively, we think Clark can control a pitching staff right now. The only question about him is offensively, although he plays a position where you can sacrifice some offense for defense,” said Warnimont. “He brings energy, leadership and communication behind the plate. If he can block and receive it well and control the pitching staff like we think he can, that should give him a chance to compete right away.”
Rice, who plans to major in Nursing, chose to sign with Rio Grande after also garnering attention from the University of Pikeville and Muskingum.
It was a recent visit to the Rio campus and a meeting with the RedStorm coaches and players that helped seal the decision.
“I went up there for a workout and the team really seemed to have a positive energy – with each other and the coaching staff,” Rice said. “Everybody was great to me on my visit. The atmosphere was a lot like home.”
Rice is one of two Lawrence County players to sign with the RedStorm for next season, joining his Bulldog teammate Brandon Stevens.
“When I heard that coach was recruiting Brandon, too, I knew in my heart that Rio was the place to go,” he added.
Warnimont emphasized again that, the quicker Rice adapts to the college game, the quicker he’ll see playing time.
“Clark will give us depth at the catching position,” Warnimont said. “As he gets adjusted to the speed of the college game, his impact will increase.”
Rice said he doesn’t want to see his high school career end any time soon, but added that he’s anxious to get started on his career with the RedStorm.
“I’ve always been a leader and not a follower and I think I can bring those same kind of skills to the program,” he said. “I like to make sure my teammates are in the right spots on the field so that we’re all successful.”
Rice is the son of Paul and Susie Rice of Louisa.