BELPRE - Clay Ullman of Belpre High School is the latest in a legion of area athletes Ohio Valley University head baseball coach Bob Crawford has recruited to play for the Fighting Scots.
''I'm excited about going to play baseball at OVU,'' said Ullman. ''I've played baseball my whole life; it's my favorite sport. So it was always a dream of mine to play baseball in college.''
Ullman, a self-professed homebody, ''loves the distance OVU is from my house, about 10 minutes away. Coach Crawford, I like him a lot. He made me very interested in playing there. I love the campus, the atmosphere - everything about it.''
Plus, Ullman stated, ''my whole family's around here, so they'll be able to watch me whenever they want.''
And that opportunity starts already this fall as Crawford is going to play his fall ball games at Belpre's Civitan Park, the Golden Eagles' home field. Ullman hopes that ''should help me a little bit'' with getting off to a good start at OVU, ''since this is a field I've played on my whole life.''
Ullman played primarily in the outfield, but also pitched for Belpre head coach Terry Mullen, who ''thinks I'll probably be a right fielder in college,'' said Ullman. ''Coach Mullen thinks I have a good arm, so I should go for right field. That's fine with me. I like right field better than center anyway.''
In addition to OVU, Ullman did ''talk to Fairmont State a little bit. I liked their campus; it was really nice. But it was about a two-hour drive. And I'm a family guy, so that was just too far away for me.''
At Belpre, Ullman played football, basketball and baseball as a freshman and sophomore. Then ''going into my junior year,'' he said, ''I wanted to focus more on baseball, so decided not to play basketball my junior and senior years which worked out. My (batting) average skyrocketed and my fielding became very good.''
This past season, Ullman batted .566, although he ''was batting .750 for a long time.''
But jokingly, Ullman blamed his drop of almost 200 points on Belpre teammate Wes Hatfield, who ''told me before our Trimble game I could go 0-for the rest of the season and still lead the area in batting. Well, I went 1-for-11 after that and it ruined my .750 batting average. So I wasn't too happy with Wes, but .566 isn't too bad.''
Taking the winter off to concentrate on getting ready for baseball in the spring has ''really helped a lot'' the last couple years, Ullman said. ''Now that I don't have to play football anymore too. I'll be even more focused on baseball from now on.''
When Ullman was Belpre's starting quarterback for the last three years, always by August he ''had to get rid of my baseball throw. But now I can just throw a baseball and bat year around.''
Ullman was an All-TVC baseball selection as both a junior and senior, when he was also tabbed All-Southeast District in addition to securing TVC Offensive Player of the Year honors.