Boulder’s Luke Pemberton is imagining the warm sun on his skin, beaches and baseball with no danger of snow in the forecast.
Officially, the outfielder’s next act will be at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California — where even without the muck of the coronavirus, it’d still sound a lot like paradise.
“I’m super excited,” Pemberton said. “Just to get out of the snow, year-round sunshine … to be on the beach is something I’ve never had. I’m really excited about that.”
Pemberton is one of a handful of 2020 baseball players around the area to land an opportunity with a Division-I program, a list that also includes, at the very least, Mead’s Nick Jacobs to Air Force and Silver Creek’s Cam Hassert to Villanova. He’s also one of two D-I guys from the Panthers’ program — the other being two-time, All-Front Range League pitcher Dorsey Chatham, who is committed to Xavier.
What could have been for Boulder baseball this spring — those two part of a stacked senior class full of college signees? All the feelings of excitement, evaporated.
“We had great expectations for this season,” said Boulder coach Jack Taylor, whose team was coming off a 15-9 record in 2019. “We were pretty good last year, and we came in and we had a lot of arms and a lot of bats.”
But it never got off the ground. The spring season was delayed and delayed until CHSAA announced its termination a little more than two weeks ago.
Said Chatham: “It was going to be great. But I really feel bad for the guys that this was going to be their first season on varsity. They were seniors and they worked their way up and were ready to play at the top level and they never got to.”
Taylor said Chatham would’ve been the “big dog” on the team’s pitching staff after striking out 57 in 37 1/3 innings a year ago.
The right-handed flamethrower impressed a number of D-I scouts during national club showcases last summer. His fastball guns 91-93 MPH.
“He’s a great hitter, middle of the lineup guy, fantastic player, works hard, loves the game and just has a great, overpowering right arm,” Taylor said. “He has a lot of upside.”
Months after Chatham’s commitment, Pemberton made his own move to Pepperdine in the fall after hitting .306 and playing centerfield for Boulder as junior.
The quick, strong-armed outfielder found himself on the Waves’ radar last fall thanks to a connection from his club coach Matt Kanfer, a 2019 graduate out of the Malibu program. Pemberton said Kanfer sent a highlight video to the Waves’ coaching staff and he was invited to their camp before accepting a preferred walk-on role.
“I did have opportunities to go other places on scholarship, but I felt like it was a good fit for me as a person,” Pemberton said. “I really like the program and coaches there and I felt like it was a place I could grow as a player and hopefully take my game to the next level.”
Other Boulder 2020 baseball commits include Nate Bach to Cisco College (Cisco, Texas), Noah Ghiselli to Willamette (Salem, Oregon), Vincent Sauza to Augustana (Rock Island, Illinois), Julian Zamora to Washburn (Topeka, Kansas), and Trevor Moore to Augustana (Rock Island, Illinois), per Taylor.