CADIZ - Nick Pelegreen was ready to embark on his college football career until Harrison Central made its amazing run to the Division II state baseball semifinals in early June.
"When football season was in I was kind of fired up to play college football, but when baseball started I knew my heart was really into baseball," he admitted earlier this week. "I knew deep down that I always wanted to play baseball. I finally realized that."
Because of that realization, the 6-4, 220-pound Pelegreen will further his academic and athletic careers at Wheeling Jesuit University. He was prepared to play football at Marietta.
"I really like both sports, but baseball has been my first love all my life," he added.
When he reports to the Cardinals, he will most likely be a corner infielder.
"They (the coaches) told me I'll probably start out as a first baseman, but I could see some action at third and, possibly, as a pitcher."
He knows there's still a lot of work ahead for him to play collegiately.
"I'll need to get in better shape and get stronger," he admitted. "I'll also need to get smarter about the game of baseball and just work on the little things."
Pelegreen, along with the other members of the Huskies' recently graduated senior class, was very instrumental in helping turnaround their baseball program. As freshman and sophomores they took their lumps, but as juniors they started to come around.
Then, from out of the blue, Harrison Central started its magical trip to Columbus when the post-season got under way.
"That run really topped of my career," Pelegreen noted. "It was an unbelievable experience."
A four-year stalwart for the Huskies, he hit .364 with 32 hits in 88 trips to the plate. He drove in 31 runs and crossed the plate 23 times. Of his base hits, 27 went for singles, while he charted three two-baggers and slugged a pair of home runs. His on-base percentage was .512, while his slugging mark was .466.
On the mound, the hard-throwing righty compiled a 3-1 mark with a save. He fashioned a 3.65 ERA, giving up 24 earned runs (35 total) in 46 innings of work. He fanned 49, walked 26 and hit four.
"Nick had a great career for us. He was steady throughout all four years," Clifford allowed. "He had a real good senior year. He would do anything to help make us be successful, and he did it at a high level."
By attending WJU, Pelegreen will be playing alongside HC teammate Rashaen Mitchell.
"Rashaen and I have really become good friends over the years," he added. "We're going to room together."
Pelegreen was also a four-year member of the Cadiz Post 34 American Legion baseball team.
In addition to WJU, the only other school to consider Pelegreen for baseball was Bethany College. Football schools included West Liberty University, Robert Morris University and the aforementioned Marietta. He also started as a power forward in basketball.
While he turned down the opportunity to play college football, he will get one last chance to put on the pads as he reports to Bethany College today in preparation for the upcoming Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Game.
"It should be a lot of fun," he said about the contest.
He plans on majoring in business administration.
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org