JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
A unanimous 1st Team All-Okaw Valley Conference football star, track star, and baseball star, Luke Hatfield made it official on Tuesday, signing to play collegiate baseball next year at Kaskaskia College in Centralia.
Kaskaskia coach Mitch Koester was on hand Tuesday with Hatfield, Hatfield’s father and step-mother, Travis and Amy Hatfield, and his mother, Sally Peterson, for the official signing. Also on hand was Shelbyville baseball coach Sam Mehl.
“Luke has been very important to our program,” Coach Mehl said. “His home runs and RBIs, since he was a freshman, are something you can’t replace. He hit in the middle of the order for a reason.”
As a freshman, Hatfield led the Rams with 32 RBIs and a team-high 10 doubles. He had four home runs and batted .398. As a sophomore, Hatfield came within one home run of the school record, cranking 11 round trippers. He led the team again with 34 RBIs. He hit .368 and had an on-base percentage of .415.
Last year, as a junior, Hatfield once again hit 11 home runs, led the team with 39 RBIs, plus a team-high 14 doubles. He led the team in batting at .433, had an on base percentage of .557, and had a slugging percentage of .978.
“Luke is a great outfielder,” Coach Mehl said. “He’s what we call a 5-tool player. He has the speed to play center field and right field and has a rocker for an arm. Guys do not run on him. He makes every play and covers the ground.”
Coach Mehl thinks Hatfield is ready for the next level.
“Luke will progress,” Coach Mehl said. “He has the physical skills and the desire to work. His best asset is power and his physical tools. He will have to adjust to better off-speed pitching, but he should have no trouble with a fast ball. As long as he keeps progressing, he can go on to a 4-year program, the next level.”
Former Ram baseball players that played at Kaskaskia were Derrick Hayden and Jason Sullivan. Hayden mentioned Hatfield to Coach Koester and once Koester saw Hatfield play, he knew he wanted him.
“I watched him play last spring and things moved forward,” Coach Koester said.
Koester also saw Hatfeld play on the Shelby County Legion Team in the summer, alongside Kaskaskia players Kyle and Ryne Floyd of Windsor.
“He’ll hit in the middle. He adds a lot of pop with the bat,” Coach Koester. “His high school to college transition will be an easy transition. He can step in right away. If you hit well, we’ll find you a spot in the field. He has the athletic ability to play all three outfield spots.”
Kaskaskia was 26-22 last year and 5th in the GRAC. However, they have moved to improve their pitching staff. Koester, who played at Teutopolis, has also signed Jared Waldhoff and Chase Wendlng of Teutopolis for next year. Hatfield knows them from playing against them.
Hatfield had interests from other college programs, but thought Kaskaskia was the best place.
“Kaskaskia is close to home and it has a great facility,” Luke Hatfield said. “It seemed like a good fit. I’d like to play as long as a I can and go on to a 4-year school or the next level.”
Hatfield has played baseball ever since T-ball and moved up early to little league. He’s also been a head of the curve and also moved up early to senior legion ball. Although Hatfield has never had a hitting coach or gone to any camps, he works all winter long on hitting and looks forward to college ball.
“I’m excited about it,” Hatfield said. “I’m ready for the next level.”