The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

April 30, 2012

Dragon opts for LCC

Edgewood star sees it as next step up ladders

Anyone who has seen Edgewood’s Bobby Dragon swing a baseball bat or throw pitch could easily see the 2011 Star Beacon Ashtabula County Player of the Year had the ability to play at the next level and beyond.

So, it became a matter of when, not if, Dragon would decide to continue his playing career after graduation.

The son of George and Renee will head to Lakeland Community College next season with the goal of progressing to a Division I school for baseball at some point, a common route for some of the top players in the sport.

“I’m very happy with my decision because it was a very hard decision for me between Lakeland and Gannon because my sister goes to Gannon,” he said. “They’re both good programs so it was a hard decision. I think that when I visited their coach he said he can push and work with me to put me into a Division I school and led me in that direction. Everything they do there is nice and I love their program when I visited.”

Dragon terrorized opposing pitching in 2011 and has continued to do so this year.

Entering this week, Dragon was hitting .591 with an on-base percentage of .684 while slugging .795. Additionally, he’s scored 25 runs, knocked in 11 and smacked nine doubles.

So far, Dragon is pleased with the season.

“I’m really happy with everything,” he said. “The team’s coming together and starting to play like a team. I’m expecting a lot out of our team. The draw is Sunday and I’m excited to see how that goes.”

Edgewood (12-6) earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament, behind only top-seeded Lake Catholic (12-7).

Leading the Warriors this year is first-year coach Bill Lipps. Dragon credited Lipps, as well as former coach Steve Kray and also Pymatuning Valley baseball coach Steve Urchek, as positive influences as he tried to navigate through the rigors of the recruiting trail.

“Coach (Lipps) has been a big influence because his son (Jefferson assistant coach Andy Lipps) went through the college stuff and he’s really given me a lot of advice one which would be the best fit; he’s had a big impact on me,” he said. “Coach Kray was also a big help for me. I also wanna give Coach Urchek credit. He’s helped me out a lot with colleges. He’s gotten me into camps and talking to coaches throughout the years.

“He’s a good family friend, helped me out a lot and playing against him, he’s a great coach so that’s helped.”

While Dragon is clearly one of the top hitters in the area, he can also make a claim as one of the better pitchers.

Sporting an ERA less than 2.00 (1.69) and 27 strikeouts against just 8 walks, the senior is likely to see time on the mound at the next level.

All told, Dragon said he could play left field, first and pitch.

“Coach told me he’ll try me everywhere,” he said. “He said I can pitch and hit at the same time. They’re going to put me in left, also in first. Once fall comes, they’re going to try me at all the positions.

“The biggest thing for me is speed. I need to get a lot faster and be able to play first and left. I also think I need to get a little stronger.”

A big help to Dragon on the mound is his father, George, who charts pitches for him during games and helps with his mechanics.

He said having supportive parents have been an important part of his career.

“My parents have been a big help overall,” he said. “They really pushed me on going to college visits, breaking down the schools. I really do have to credit my father for really pushing me the hardest to be a better player.

“It’s amazing to have someone like that to tell me next time where the batter is in the order, to know where that guy likes or doesn’t like a pitch. I love having him around and charting.”

Dragon, who plans to major in sports management, said the key to his impressive hitting skills is just simply seeing the ball.

“The biggest things is to see ball, hit ball,” he said. “All the years I’ve been with hitting coaches, I’ve done a lot of the vision drills. With that when I see that outside pitch, all my coaches preach to use the whole field.”

One of the subplots to the 2012 high school baseball season was the new bat regulations, as all players had to switch to BBCOR bats which have a much smaller sweet spot and less pop than previous bats.

Last year, colleges switched to the bats so Dragon said it will help him to have a year of high school baseball under his belt using the new bats.

An even better sign for the senior is that he said he hasn’t had an issues with the new bats.

“I think it’s gonna be a big help (to have an extra year),” he said. “But I honestly haven’t had one problem with the bats. I actually just got a new bat. I just don’t’ really think about it. It’s just a different sweet spot.”

While he still has unfinished business in the high school ranks, Dragon already has goals in mind for when he arrives on the Lakeland campus.

“I know I can push myself more in baseball to do a lot better and my goal is to go up there and move on to a high Division II school, or my ultimate goal is to reach a Division I school,” he said. “From talking to the coaches, they have three or four guys going pro and they’ve helped two guys go to Division I schools.

“I’m just excited to get going.”

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