PDT Sports Writer
LUCASVILLE — One way to measure the athletic success of a class can be what they did on their respective playing surfaces.
Another is if they translate their craft to the next level. The Class of 2012 at Valley High School has yet another member of its class who will showcase their talents collegiately.
On Monday, Alex Hartley — who was a member of the regional finalist football team and regional semifinalist baseball team — signed his letter of intent to play baseball for NCAA Division II Tiffin University. Hartley, a three-year starter for the Indian baseball team, will primarily play catcher for the Dragons but said he is not opposed to playing in the outfield so he can get a chance to play.
“They have a very good baseball program and reputation,” Hartley said. “The coaching staff has lots of experience, they know what they’re doing and the campus was — I felt right at home.
“It was a good size for me, it was small and I felt that I could blend into the area.”
Hartley is the second person from his class to select baseball as his sport to play in college. Patrick Riehl earlier signed with NCAA Division II Mars Hill (N.C.) College.
“We have a great deal of pride in our baseball program,” Hartley said. “We have a great tradition and coach (Dean) Schuler and the rest of the coaches have made great strides and worked really hard to make our program what it is.
“I’m just another player that comes up through the program who learns everything they teach. It helps and it benefits.”
Schuler characterized Hartley as another coach on the field.
“Sometimes when a pitcher is losing it, sometimes the catcher can pick it up before you can standing in the dugout as a coach,” Schuler said.
The first taste of action for Hartley on the varsity level came in his sophomore year with an injury sustained by Brice Crabtree. In the next three seasons, Hartley finished with batting averages of .400, .375 and .310.
In his final two campaigns, Hartley led the team with 27 and 20 runs batted in, respectively. This season, he also led the squad with 24 runs scored.
Hartley selected Tiffin over walk-on opportunities with Division I Ohio University, Wright State and Division III Bluffton University. He will study business when he enrolls.
Among the items Hartley will have to work on to prove himself to the coaching staff, led by former Ohio State player Joe Wilkins, will be his ability to get throw basestealers out and some minor tweaks to his hitting. He feels Schuler and the rest of the Indian coaching staff has helped out his confidence in reaching his goals.
During the recruiting process, Schuler said Wilkins was interested in Hartley and another athlete for the only catching spot he was recruiting for this incoming class. Wilkins invited Hartley up for a workout.
“After he went up and worked out, he wasn’t interested in the other catcher,” Schuler said. “Alex has put himself in a position to where he’s got an opportunity.
“I think any time kids get opportunities, then it makes you feel pretty proud of them.”
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org.