Brownstown grad Aaron Lovett wouldn't change a thing about his pitching career at the University of Kentucky.
He finished a two-year stint at the Southeastern Conference School with the fourth-best career earned run average (3.38) in the program's history, after all, and he helped the Wildcats advance to the NCAA Tournament by going 5-1 his senior year.
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for Lovett to hear his name called during last weekend's Major League Baseball amateur draft.
But even though he was not drafted, Lovett will still play professionally if he gets the right offer. Otherwise, the Wildcat pitcher will attend Kentucky for one more year of classes.
"I have improved every year, and I was drafted after high school and after one year at Kaskaskia College," said Lovett. "Maybe they think I can't get any better, but I respectfully disagree. I think there is always room for improvement. I hope to play again."
With his credentials at not only Kentucky, but KC as well, Lovett will probably be standing on a mound, gripping a baseball and taking a sign from a catcher before he knows it.
During his college career, he won 24 games and lost only six.
As a senior, he logged 56 1/3 innings of work, allowing 27 earned runs on 56 hits for a 4.31 earned run average. He fanned 42 batters and walked 21.
Lovett started just one game during his time at Kentucky - and he made the most of it.
"My best moment of my two years at Kentucky was in the last month of my senior season," said Lovett. "I had an opportunity to start against Alabama in the first round of the SEC Tournament. I was happy the coaches decided to start me and even happier I got the win. It started us off on the right foot in the SEC Tournament."
After a rough opening inning, Lovett dominated the Crimson Tide, striking out 12 and walking just two in a complete-game effort.
It was an ironic twist of fate for Lovett, considering he made a name for himself in Lexington with his work out of the bullpen.
Lovett had a team-high seven saves as a junior. He also had the lowest earned-run average on the team, posting a 2.20 ERA in 45 innings of work.
Lovett earned a scholarship at Kentucky after becoming one of the best pitchers in Kaskaskia College history.
He was 8-2 as a freshman and earned the Great Rivers Athletic Conference's Freshman of the Year.
All told, the college experience was a challenging and rewarding one for Lovett.
"College is an entirely different game compared to high school," said Lovett. "The speed is unbelievable. In high school, if you are a one-dimensional player, you can be a pretty good player. But, you have to have more than that in college."
Lovett, the son of Don and Robin Lovett of Brownstown will earn his degree in kinesiology/exercise science in May 2009.
"My parents, my sister (Jennifer) and other relatives were all very supportive of my career," said Lovett. "If I had it to do again, I would still pass up the draft after high school and my freshman year in college and attend Kentucky. I had some great coaches at Kentucky, as well as Brad Tuttle (KC's head coach) and (former Brownstown coach) Bob Page. I believe that knowledge gained from them will be important in the years to come."
South Central grad Spencer Patton had a 9-2 record this year at Parkland College in Champaign.
In 57 innings of work, the sophomore hurler allowed 24 earned runs on 53 hits for a 3.78 earned-run average. He finished with 72 strikeouts and 13 walks. He led Parkland in strikeouts and victories. Parkland finished the year with a record of 37-16.
Greenville College's Bryan Hobbie recently completed his baseball season. The Vandalia grad, who played in 35 games and started 32, finished with a .302 batting average. He had 32 hits (eight doubles, three triples, one homer), 26 runs scored, 24 RBIs, 10 walks and 10 stolen bases. He led Greenville in doubles and triples.
Hobbie spent some time on the mound as well. In 10 1/3 innings worked, he allowed nine earned runs on 13 hits. He walked 11 batters and fanned six hitters. He did not have any wins or losses. Greenville finished 20-19 overall and 14-10 in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
This is the final "College Report" of the year. The 2008-09 College Report will start on Aug. 27. It will be a simple introduction article. If you want to make sure your son/daughter is on my list for next year, please e-mail me (Dan62293@cs.com). When e-mailing, please make sure to put "The Vandalia Leader-Union" in the subject line of the e-mail. I will need the name of the athlete, the former high school, the college/university they are attending and, of course, the sport they are playing. All of the high schools will be contacted during the summer.