Friday, April 23, 2010

SPORTS >> Bates shows clout, joins Razorbacks

Leader sports editor

Former Cabot Panthers shortstop Sam Bates is going to be a Razorback.

Bates, who graduated two years ago, has signed out of Crowder Junior College to play for Arkansas and coach Dave Van Horn.

“We’re just tickled about that,” Cabot coach Jay Fitch said.

Bates, who throws right-handed and bats left, will be the first of Fitch’s former players to sign with Arkansas.

“He’s just a good athlete,” Fitch said of Bates, who also played basketball for the Panthers. “We never really knew how good he could be in baseball.”

Bates was a three-time all-conference selection with the Panthers.

At Crowder, located in Neosho, Mo., Bates is among the team’s leading hitters with a .417 average and a team-high 39 RBI, nine home runs and 53 hits.

Playing mostly first base and outfield at Crowder, Bates also leads the team with 175 putouts.

“He’s just been tearing it up,” Fitch said.

Fitch said, as a coach, it is his first priority to win games, but a coach always takes pride in seeing a former player move on to the NCAA Division I ranks.

“It’s not our main job but it is kind of a feather in your hat, too,” Fitch said. “It was pretty cool. We were real excited about it.”

Crowder competes in the National Junior College Athletic Association.