BROOMFIELD — Brandon Bailey was sold on Gonzaga University long before Wednesday’s early signing day.
The right-handed fire-baller made a verbal commitment to move his baseball career to Spokane, Wash., right around the time Broomfield captured the Class 4A state championship last spring. But it was far dimmer circumstances that reassured Bailey he had made the right choice in becoming a Bulldog.
A 4-inch long scar on the pitcher’s throwing arm might have been enough to scare away some college programs. But the Gonzaga coaching staff never batted an eye when the incoming senior underwent Tommy John surgery this summer.
“They told me they liked me enough that even if I got hurt anytime before I stepped on campus that they still wanted to keep the scholarship,” he said. “It definitely showed that they cared.”
Bailey was injured early in July at a showcase tournament put on by the Baseball Factory in Costa Mesa, Calf. At the event he tore a ligament in his throwing arm, but he said his doctor believed the injury started much earlier. Bailey said his doctor believed his injury could have started to develop as early as the start of the high school season. But what exasperated it to the point of requiring the pitcher to take spare parts from his knee to repair his elbow was the final inning of the state championship.
Bailey pitched a complete game against Air Academy to help lead the Eagles to the title. But sometime in the seventh inning he tore a muscle in his right forearm. He said his doctor suspected that injury changed Bailey’s throwing mechanics, leading to extra stress on an already stressed elbow.
“The doctor said it was overall fatigue,” said Bailey, who finished the 2012 high school season with 1.02 ERA and 107 strikeouts. “When he saw it, he said it looked like a worn out rubber band.”
Bailey has not thrown full speed since his surgery on July 23, just some toss and tons of rehab. But he is confident that his work ethic, grit and good doctors will get him back to throwing 95 mph, if not more.
“My doctor said the surgery has a 95-percent success rate now,” he said. “And that most comeback from it throwing harder.”
Bailey was far from the only athlete throwing his signature down during Wednesday’s early signing day. Despite a small signing class, Broomfield had a banner day with three NCAA Division-I commitments. Joining Bailey in signing letters of intent were golfer Taylor Dorans and swimmer Martin Wallace.
Dorans committed to the University of Wyoming, making her the third of her three sisters to move on to college golf. The 2012 fourth-place 4A state finisher is also the third Division-I golfer coach John Farraro has sent out of a Broomfield program in the past three years. And while Dorans believed she had the stuff to earn a spot with a top program, she admitted making it to that point was very special
“It’s humbling,” she said. “I definitely feel all my hard work has paid off.”
Wallace was a two-time state runner up in 2012, finishing second in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly. He committed to the University of Missouri, but considered a number of top-flight programs before finally settling on the Tigers. And while Missouri’s up-and-coming status was a selling point, it was actually some of the team’s facilities that sealed the deal.
“The school’s new student-athlete center is one of the big reason’s why I committed,” he said. “They have all the tutors you need, nutritionist and support that you need. That’s what did it for me.”
LEGACY MOVES FIVE ATHLETES TO COLLEGE
Legacy has more than made its name in high school softball. And the Class 5A powerhouse’s reputation has carried over to the college level.
This was more than evident Wednesday, when during early signing day the team initiated what should turn out to be a banner year of college commitments. Bekka Prokaski, Hanna Caress and Kara Walling each inked their letters of intent in a ceremony at the school, but when every thing is said and done Dawn Gaffin is expecting a ton more commitments.
By the next softball signing date in April, the coach believes all seven of her seniors will have committed. And that will be an impressive mark for a team that has made a habit of making them.
“It will be our biggest signing class,” Gaffin said. “It’s always good to have kids carry on their academic and softball careers, especially when it is afforded to them through scholarship.”
Prokaski committed to Chadron State College, Caress to Colorado Christian College and Walling to Colorado School of Mines. Paige Reichmuth, Mariah Latham, Jocelyn Howard and Angelique Archuleta are still in the process of choosing from a number of college programs.
Legacy also had other athletes commit from other sports. Caitlin Smith, who played post for the school’s first state championship girls basketball team, signed with the Colorado School of Mines. And swimmer Sara Nash committed with University of the Pacific. Nash does not swim for the high school team, but competes with the Boulder Swim Team club squad.
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