By ERIC KNOPSNYDER
Austin Urban has traveled the country to play baseball, and now he’ll be able play collegiately in Pennsylvania.
Urban, a senior at Richland, signed a national letter of intent on Thursday to play baseball at Penn State.
“My parents have always wanted to see me play, so it was a nice fit,” said Urban, a pitcher and shortstop. “They can always come up and see me play when they want to.”
That was an opportunity his parents didn’t have during the summer, when Urban went west to play.
“I had a chance this summer to play for a team called NorCal out of California. I got to play with them in Arizona this summer in the Junior Olympics,” he said. “That was a real good experience.”
Urban was quick to credit the coaching he’s gotten in the Johnstown area, from Jerry Maiser, John Sidor, Garrett Sidor, Casey Long, Dee Dee Osborne, Rick Roberts and Mike Holtz to his own father.
“I’m just thankful to have a lot of great coaches along the way that helped me out,” Urban said.
Urban picked Penn State over a host of other Division I schools including Marist, Wake Forest, Kent State and Ohio.
“The campus, it was just beautiful,” he said of Happy Valley. “I loved it. I went to a lot of other colleges, but that was the right place with the coaches and players and where I wanted to be.”
The facilities, including Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, also attracted him .
“A $25 million field, batting cages inside,” Urban said. “They have a big center where the football team practices, but they play live games in the wintertime inside. They said it’s deeper to hit a home run to center inside than outside.”
Urban hit .435 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 16 games with Richland last season.
John Sidor, Richland’s coach, said that Urban’s signing is big for the Rams.
“It not only means a lot to the coaching staff and the baseball team, but to our high school,” the coach said.
“He’s another example of the great student-athletes that have been coming out of our school in the last couple of years. We’re very proud and very happy with his decision to go to Penn State.”
Urban said that signing now allows him to concentrate on playing for Richland in the spring.
“It’s nice to just know where I’m going and look forward to my senior year and trying to win a district championship,” he said.