X marks the spot for Blake Murray
Blake Murray has wasted no time in mapping out plans for his baseball future. And that road map leads from Minden directly to Cincinnati, Ohio.
Murray, a two-sport athlete who is still a junior at Douglas High School, has announced a verbal commitment to play baseball at Xavier University after his graduation in 2018.
A lot could potentially happen in the next year-and-a-half since no national letter-of-intent has been signed, however, Murray has no doubt about the decision he announced on Dec. 21. Murray indicated that he plans to make the decision official in November during the early NCAA signing period.
“I’m ready to go. It’s a great school and a great fit for me,” Murray said. “I visited Yale and Xavier on the same weekend and I came out of that experience with a lot of knowledge. It was a tough decision, but at the end of the day, Xavier felt like it was home.”
Murray isn’t playing for the Douglas High baseball team this spring, opting instead to focus on playing summer and fall ball for the Reno Muckdogs Baseball Club. He is also a standout wrestler who has qualified to compete at the state wrestling tournament the last two years for Douglas.
“I think my future is in baseball,” Murray said. “I’m going to play pro ball some day. That’s my goal and I’m going to do everything I can to play.”
Murray’s plan is to play catcher or possibly as an outfielder in college. This is a significant step, too, since Xavier is the reigning Big East Conference champion. The Musketeers swept a three-game series last weekend against Ohio State and on March 15 led as late as the fifth inning before finally losing 13-4 against No. 1 Louisville.
Muckdogs coach Ken Camel pointed to Murray’s pursuit of excellence on the diamond and the classroom as assets.
“Blake is a very hard working young man. He has great academic scores and has been very committed to being a College Baseball Player,” Camel noted on the Fieldlevel.com website. “We are excited for Blake’s future as a 2018 high school grad future student/athlete at Xavier University.”
Murray explained that his interest in the Musketeers began in the fall when he played in a fall tournament for Trotsky Baseball in Peoria, Ariz.
“Nate Trotsky’s an awesome guy,” Murray said. “I’ve known him since I was about 12 years old and going to the Stanford camps every summer. This was the first time I actually got to play for him and there were hundreds of schools that came to look at us. Xavier saw us play and we just went from there. It was awesome.”
Murray expressed his gratitude to a number of coaches who have helped along the way.
“Brett (Pagni) and Ken (Camel) have been awesome,” Murray said, referring to the Muckdogs. “And Richard Weidinger, I met him when I was 12 years old at Stanford and I’ve been working with him on my mechanics ever since. He’s a phenomenal man, he’s been like a father figure to me.
“All of those guys have been super supportive and I just want to thank them for being part of my journey.”
Murray has had quite a journey during his three seasons on the wrestling mat for Douglas. His father, Jon, was also a wrestling standout for the Tigers in the 1980s, a two-time state tournament qualifier and silver medal winner as a senior 145 pounder in 1989.
Murray compiled a 37-5 record as a 170-pounder this past season, capped by a second-place performance at the region tournament and third-place at the 4A state tournament. His career high school record is 107-25. Three of those losses this season came at the hands of state 170-pound champion Andrew Berreyesa of Reno — who has committed to Cornell University and was part of a U.S. Greco-Roman team that recently toured Austria.
“Berreyesa is gone and that’s a huge monkey off my back,” Murray said. “That dude is a stud. I mean, Berreyesa is going to be in the Olympics some day and I’m going to be able to say, ‘I wrestled that guy.’
“I plan on moving up a couple of weight classes and, hopefully, I’m going to do everything I can to be a state champ,” he added. “Hopefully, I can get bigger. I need to start smashing baseballs a little harder.”