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Galena’s Maupin to play for Washington State

Galena’s Maupin to play for Washington State

BY MIKE HOUSER

Appeal Sports Writer

Galena Grizzlies pitcher Eric Maupin gave Washington State a verbal commitment on Monday to play baseball for the Cougars next season.

The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Maupin was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 48th round of the Major League Baseball draft this year, but decided to listen to some suggestions from his parents and weigh his options.

“They’ve been really supportive,” the 18-year-old Maupin said. “They want me to make my own decisions, but they gave me a lot of advice. They asked how much money I’d need and that (being selected in the 48th round) probably wasn’t going to be enough to get me through.”

Maupin, who is expected to sign a letter of intent later this week to play for Washington State, also paid visits to Nebraska and Pepperdine.

“I thought it was a better fit for me,” Maupin said of Washington State. “I went up there and loved it. I loved the coaches and thought it would be the best place for me. Pretty much all of the coaches (from the three schools) came out to see me pitch, but they also got to see me hit. They said I was two players in one. I think I have a good shot at playing both (pitching and a position). I think my future is pitching, but I can definitely hit, too.”

According to Galena head coach Gary McNamara, the Cougars got themselves a real bargain in the right-hander, who went 11-0 with an 0.97 earned run average for the Grizzlies, who went 35-4 last season and lost to Bishop Gorman in the state championship game in Las Vegas.

“Washington State will be getting a two-way Division-I player,” McNamara said. “Obviously they want him for pitching, but they also want him to hit and play first base as well. It’s rare to have an athlete able to play position and pitcher at the D-I level. They’re almost getting a two-for-the-price-of-one player.”

Maupin also was a huge part of Galena’s state championship basketball team, for which he played power forward under coach Tom Mauer.

Although he said he considered playing college basketball, Maupin said he preferred to concentrate on baseball.

“This summer was big. I didn’t have a great year,” said Maupin, who added that he was surprised to be drafted. “It (having a good summer) is something you need to be highly recruited. Over the summer I worked on my mechanics and my swing.”

Whatever he worked on, it worked and in the end he got to choose from three solid programs.

“I’m happy it all worked out,” McNamara said. “It was a tough, tough decision. The Maupin family was very patient. There were three high-profile schools in the mix. Obviously the Pac-10 is as good a conference as there is. I’m sure he’ll hope he can make it to the Super Regionals and to play in Omaha (in the College World Series).”

The Cougars finished sixth in the Pac-10 in 2007, but defending CWS world champion Oregon State, which finished seventh, got the call and went on to defend its title.

Maupin said his fastball registers between 88-91 miles per hour on the radar gun, but said he’s been working on expanding his skill-set.

“My best pitch is my fastball or slider, but I’ve been working more on my curveball,” Maupin said. “My changeup’s also getting better and I’m adding velocity.”

While taking his game to the professional level is a goal for Maupin – he said he’d like to play for the Reds or Mariners if given a choice – he said would possibly major in something to do with medicine, perhaps physical therapy.

“Galena was great. I’m going to miss it a lot,” said Maupin, who will head northwest Aug. 10. “The coaching I had prepared me very well for college. Coach Mac, Coach Mauer helped a lot for the things I’ll face at Washington State.”