FLATWOODS, Ky. — Kentucky Christian University has a Pope.
Russell High School baseball standout Zach Pope signed last week to play for KCU. Through Thursday's games, the righthanded pitcher featured a 3.18 earned run average with a 1-2 record in 22 innings this season. Opponents have hit merely .215 against him. As a hitter, Pope has one home run and five runs batted in, with a .263 batting average.
Pope, who said he will major in nursing, will join teammate Caleb Keelin at KCU, located in nearby Grayson, Kentucky.
"It's close to home and is a good fit for me," Pope said of his choice of college. "I didn't want to go far."
Pope credited his father, Dennis, and Red Devils coach Tim Rice for helping him develop as a player. Pope said he plans to work on developing his arm strength and variety of pitches as he prepares for the college game.
A 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior, Pope garnered college attention last summer playing for a travel team out of Westerville, Ohio. He said the competition he faced in travel ball helped him as a pitcher.
The Kentucky Christian program, which just completed its second season, began recruiting Pope when former coach Chris Hensley was at the helm of the Knights and continued when Jason Stowers took over.
The Knights struggled to a 6-24 record last season, but ended the year on a two-game winning streak.