Rio inks Lawrence County's Stevens

Lawrence County (Ky.) High School’s Brandon
Stevens signs to play baseball at the University of Rio
Grande as his father and mother, Scotty and Anita
Stevens, along with Rio Grande head coach Brad
Warnimont look on.

LOUISA, Ky. – University of Rio Grande head baseball coach Brad Warnimont has announced the signing of Lawrence County High School standout Brandon Stevens for the 2014 season.

Stevens is a 5-foot-9, 175-pound left-handed pitcher/first baseman for head coach Travis Feltner’s Bulldogs, who finished regular season play with a 21-11 record as they prepared to open 57th District Tournament play on Tuesday night.

Stevens has a 7-2 record and a 1.30 earned run average this season. In 13 appearances, seven of which have been starts, he’s authored three complete games and a pair of shutouts..

In 53-2/3 innings, Stevens has allowed 46 hits and 114 runs – just 10 earned – while striking out 43 and walking just eight. He also has not allowed a home run this season..

For Stevens, the signing put to rest the notion by some that his hopes of playing collegiate baseball were nothing more than hollow dreams.

“It’s all about how hard you work and if you really want to get better,” he said. “You dream about playing college ball and going to the next level, but you have to work to make it happen. You don’t just wake up one day and say, ‘Wow, I’m really good.’ We’ve got a great coaching staff that has really pushed me and helped me do things that I didn’t think I could do. I owe quite a bit to them.”

Warnimont said that, while Stevens isn’t a flame-thrower, his competitiveness and the fact that he’s left-handed could go a long way toward how quickly he sees the field for the RedStorm.

“We see Brandon as a dual-role guy right now,” Warnimont said. “He’s a left-handed stick, he’s left-handed off the bump – at our level he’d be seen as a ‘soft lefty’ – but he competes really well, he’s got a nice breaking ball and he has command of three pitches. He throws his fastball, his changeup and his curveball all for strikes.”

Stevens, who plans to major in Radiology, chose to sign with Rio Grande after also receiving interest from a handful of other schools, including Alice Lloyd College. He first caught the attention of Warnimont while the veteran Rio coach was making a visit to see his LCHS teammate, catcher Clark Rice.

“I’d been looking at a few schools and a few schools had contacted me, but nobody had really hit home with me,” Stevens said. “Clark had told me about Rio Grande, I talked with coach Warnimont when he was down here to see Clark and he invited me up for a visit. I just loved everything about the campus. Plus, I’m going to major in radiology and most schools didn’t have that program, so that was another factor in choosing Rio.”

Warnimont said he’s excited about the kind of player that Stevens can be down the road, noting that his career to this point is only the tip of the iceberg.

“He’s a sleeper for us,” Warnimont said. “He’s coming off an injury - he just got out of a cast around January. He broke a bone in his foot and then re-injured the bone. He’s a guy whose velocity is only going to get better. He’s still playing himself into shape, so to speak, and we think he’s got a great deal of potential.”

Warnimont added that getting Stevens – as well as Rice – as additions to his program was icing on the cake of the recruiting process, pointing out the Bulldogs’ proud baseball tradition which includes a trio of appearances in the Kentucky Sweet 16 since 2008.

“You want to recruit kids who come from winning programs, where kids are well-coached and expectations are high. I think that’s exactly what we have in the two guys we got from here,” he said.

Stevens’ “team-first” attitude is another added bonus.

“I’m all about the team, not about myself,” said Stevens. “If the team is successful, then I’m successful.”

Stevens is the son of Scotty and Anita Stevens of Louisa.