Saturday, November 19, 2011

SPORTS>>Hogs secure McClure

Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville senior D’Vone McClure signed his national letter of intent to play baseball for the University of Arkansa. McClure signed early in the morning in front of students and faculty at the Devils Den gymnasium Wednesday.

McClure, a centerfielder, was part of a state-championship winning Red Devils team back in the spring, and is one of only two returning starters from that team.

The Jacksonville High School Juke Box Band set the mood with a short performance before athletic director Jerry Wilson led the student body in calling the Hogs.

That was followed by a brief speech by baseball coach Larry Burrows before McClure spoke to the crowd. McClure thanked his coaches and his friends for always pushing him, and thanked his family for being there for him.

“He’s been a leader since he came up,” Burrows said. “It’s nice when your best player is the hardest worker, and he’s always worked extremely hard. He’s been a good teammate, and he’s had a lot of good teammates around him. They’ve sort of put us back on the map.”

McClure was the hitting leader on a Jacksonville team which had six players batting .300 or better. In 100 at-bats, McClure had 46 hits, including nine home runs for an average of .460 and an on-base percentage of .589. He was also second to Patrick Castleberry in RBIs with 31.

The signing comes just after McClure and the Red Devils football team fell out of the Class 6A state playoffs with a 15-10 loss to Sheridan.

McClure was a starting wide receiver on the football team, making him a true two-sport standout.

“It was a lot of hard work,” McClure said. “But I love both sports, so I just kept on playing them.”

With heavy hitters such as Castleberry, Jacob Abrahamson, Kenny Cummings and Tommy Sanders all graduated from last year’s state championship team, it leaves McClure and pitcher Jessie Harbin as the only experienced players returning next spring. But McClure, with a championship ring on his hand and a prestigious scholarship in his pocket, pledges to keep doing what he’s always done – work hard.

“At the end, we’ll play better,” McClure said. “We’ll come together as a team. Me and Harbin will show them around a little bit. Once they get familiar with it, we’ll be better. It would be awesome to get another ring, but I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work.”