09 Nov 2011 Conway players headed to UAM to play baseball
by Sonja J. Keith
Come next fall, best friends Jake Fitts and Alex Smith will be headed to the University of Arkansas at Monticello to play baseball.
Both signed national letters of intent on Wednesday to play for the UAM Boll Weevils.
Jake, a student at Conway Christian High School, is a son of Laura and Joe Fitts. An outfielder, he plans to pursue physical education and would like to be a baseball coach.
Alex, a student at Conway High School, is a son of Kay and Jay Smith. He plans to major in pre-pharmacy.
Playing since he was 5, Jake plays outfield. He enjoys most the team aspect of baseball and “just how much it makes the team come together in clutch situations.” Last year, the CCS squad won the district title but lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Alex, who has played baseball since he was about 4, was a member of the Conway High School baseball team which won a state championship in the spring. A shortstop, he ran the bases for the Conway team. Of the championship, he said it was “not like anything I had witnessed before.”
Jake and Alex are the products of the Arkansas EXPRESS Baseball program, according to Joe Fitts, who is Jake’s dad and serves as assistant director of baseball operations. Greg Baxendale serves as director of baseball operations.
“Arkansas EXPRESS is a premiere showcase program,” Joe said, explaining that the program currently has 250 active high school players participating. “Our purpose is to develop high school players so they can achieve college scholarships.”
The two Conway players were among 17 from Arkansas EXPRESS who committed to colleges on Wednesday to play baseball. Currently, Arkansas EXPRESS has 130 who are playing college baseball. (For more information, please visit leaguelineup.com/expressbaseball.)
In addition to the pride he felt in his son, Joe is pleased when he considers the work that players have put into the program and the rewards they have realized. “The time has gone by fast and the nose to the grindstone has been worth it,” he said. “We take ownership of the players as people and as players.”
Both students look forward to making the move to UAM to play college ball.
“I’m eager to get down there and just become of everything they are about,” Jake said.
Arkansas EXPRESS Baseball players who signed letters of intent on Wednesday:
Josh Alberius (Little Rock Christian High School) – University of Arkansas
Blake Baxendale (Rogers Heritage High School) – University of Arkansas
Clayton Booth (Little Rock Central High School) – University of Central Arkansas
Matt Burgess (Greenbrier High School) – Crowder College
Jake Fitts (Conway Christian High School) – University of Arkansas at Monticello
Ethan Garlington (Rogers Heritage High School) – University of Nebraska
Trey Killian (Mountain Home High School) – University of Arkansas
Ryan Lazo (Conway High School) – Crowder College
Zach McKnight (Bentonville High School) – University of Arkansas at Monticello
Joseph Paulino (Shiloh Christian High) – University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Garrett Rucker (Arkadelphia High School) – University of Arkansas
Willie Schwanke (Tulsa) – University of Arkansas
Chris Scroggins (Bentonville High School) – Crowder College
Alex Smith (Conway High School) – University of Arkansas at Monticello
Teddy Stankeiwicz (Tulsa) – University of Arkansas
Justin Sunde (Greenwood High School) – Crowder College
Hunter Wood (Rogers Heritage High School) – University of Arkansas