For two Smith-Cotton student-athletes, their dreams of playing collegiate baseball became one step closer to reality with the stroke of a pen.
Chase Plymell and Roberto Ramirez signed their national letters of intent to play baseball next spring at State Fair Community College Friday afternoon.
After a 28-year absence, SFCC will begin its baseball program once again in the spring.
In December, the SFCC Board of Trustees voted to add not only baseball but also softball and mens and womens soccer to their collegiate athletics roster.
The college hopes to build the four programs by recruiting players from the local area as well as the 14-county service area the college serves.
Plymell and Ramirez are the first two students to sign to play for the college in the newly-created sports programs.
“To have the opportunity to play college ball in one of the best ballparks anywhere in the state of Missouri and the United States is such a tremendous opportunity for me,” Plymell said. “First and foremost is my education and the ability to obtain my degree.
“Both academically and athletically, SFCC is a tremendous opportunity for me,” Plymell added. “Everything fit together and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to continue my athletic career past high school.”
Plymell, who plans to obtain his degree in journalism and minor in sports marketing, said he had considered other colleges before choosing State Fair.
Plymell, a pitcher and corner infielder for S-C, said he was looking forward to his senior year for several reasons.
“We expect to do really well this year,” Plymell said. “Coach (Jud) Kindle has always told us that we are winners and that we don’t lose and it’s that philosophy that we keep with us.
“I think all of us on the team have bought into that system of thinking, and I know this will be a special season.”
One reason the season will be special is that this is Kindle’s final year at S-C.
Pending Board of Trustee approval from SFCC at their upcoming board meeting, Kindle will become the head coach of SFCC’s baseball program.
Both Plymell and Ramirez are the type of athletes Kindle said he is looking for at SFCC.
“As their coach I can tell you that these are both young men of high character who can play ball at the next level,” Kindle said. “I know they will take both roles as students and athletes very seriously.”
Ramirez, also a pitcher, was an All-State soccer player as a center back for the Tigers this season.
Playing two sports will continue for Ramirez next year as he has made a verbal commitment to play soccer at SFCC next fall in addition to signing for baseball at the college.
“I’ve always played a lot of sports and I have always loved both soccer and baseball,” Ramirez said. “I want to develop as a player and want to play professionally but I’m not sure in which sport that will be.
“Both (future SFCC soccer coach) Eddie Horn and Coach Kindle are exceptional coaches,” Ramirez said. “I know they are very committed to helping me get to the next level of play at a D-1 school.”
Ramirez said his decision to play at SFCC happened very quickly.
“Once I heard that they were starting the programs the opportunity turned into something really good, really fast,” Ramirez said. “I had been accepted at Missouri State but once this opportunity came to be I knew that going to SFCC would give me more time to think about what I want to do both athletically and academically.
“I think one of the concerns with a first-year program for a lot of people is that the teams are just starting so they can’t be that good,” Ramirez added. “I think nothing could be further from the truth because both coaches did not come here to lose and we have so much good talent in the area that will want to come and be a part of a good team and program.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484