Leader Blues

Monday, April 30, 2007

SPORTS>>SH catcher readying to become a Reddy

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills catcher Taylor Roark is headed to Arkadelphia in the fall after signing his letter of intent to attend Henderson State University on a baseball scholarship. Roark signed in front of family and friends at the media center at SHHS Wednesday afternoon.

The signing came on the heels of Tuesday’s split with Marion, in which the Bears found they could take the East title for the second straight year after Searcy and Jonesboro split their series on the same day.

Roark has had his options open, but with an eye on the Henderson offer the whole way. He says that after all the smoke settled, the offer from the Reddies was still the best one for him.

“It was getting late, and I hadn’t heard from anyone,” Roark said. “I like the campus, and I will probably have a chance to play earlier, so that gives me more motivation.”

Roark will have at least one familiar face on the team when he arrives on campus. Former Bears third baseman Cody Duncan is now a sophomore at HSU, and a member of the Henderson baseball program as well. Roark says the two have not talked extensively about the school or the team, but he says he looks forward to reconnecting with his old teammate.

For Henderson State coach John Harvey, the addition of Roark to his team is one that he says will give them more versatility.
“He’s a very good player; I think he can help us out right away,” Harvey said. “He is a good athlete, and he can do a lot of things.” Harvey said that along with Roark’s athletic ability, his efforts in the classroom at Sylvan Hills was another factor in the decision. Roark’s 3.6 GPA and ACT test score of 27 is just as impressive as his baseball stats, which also caught the attention of the Henderson staff.

“I think it’s a big consideration,” Harvey said. “A player that makes good grades is beneficial all the way around. It shows that he’s responsible, and you know that you’re not just getting a good ball player, but a good kid as well.”

Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton agrees that of all of Roark’s talents, that the versatility factor will be one of his greatest assets to the Reddies baseball program.

“I think Taylor will be a good fit for Henderson State,” Tipton said. “He can play infield, outfield, or pitch, and that will give him a chance to play early most likely. He is also a good runner and will give them a lot of speed, so I believe he will be a benefit for them in a lot of different areas.” Roark was the fifth signee of the year for Henderson State, which expects to haul in 20 new players before recruiting time is over.

Although his future is set, this season is far from over for Roark and the rest of the Bears. A possible conference title for the second straight year, and an unbelievable 13th consecutive playoff appearance lie ahead in the final weeks of the 2007 season.