Dimond High senior Sagan Osborne has dreamed of playing college baseball for a long time, so when he talked with college coaches at an American Legion camp in Anchorage last summer, he was thrilled to hear what they had to say.
"They said I have a natural talent, and thought I could really blossom at their school," Osborne said.
Eric Madsen of Utah Valley University was one of those coaches, and he successfully recruited Osborne to join his team in Orem, Utah, next fall. On Wednesday, Osborne announced his commitment to play for the Division I Wolverines.
Though he was one of Dimond's best pitchers the last two seasons, the 6-foot-3 Osborne said he doesn't anticipate doing much work on the mound in college.
"I'm not really looking to pitch. I'd like to play third base, but I'm willing to play wherever they need me."
Osborne played six positions for Dimond Post 21 in American Legion play last summer, earning all-state recognition as a utility player. He also went 6-1 as a starting pitcher and was named most valuable player of the American Legion state tournament after hitting .520 and helping Dimond to a second straight state title. Osborne put the finishing touch on the title when he scored the winning run in the championship game.
Osborne will join a Utah Valley team sitting on a 24-game winning streak, the longest current streak in Division I, with wins over a couple of ranked teams. Another major selling point was the school's excellent facility, he said.
"Their stadium is really nice, pretty new," he said.
The opportunity to train at a top-notch facility excites Osborne, because it will give him the best chance to see how good he can be.
"His grandfather and I have told him, the real work starts now," said Sagan's dad, Rusty Osborne. "He's coming from a place where they don't play a lot of games, going against kids who get to play a lot more."
As the UAA men's basketball coach, Rusty is familiar with college athletics, and his knowledge of the recruiting process was helpful to Sagan, especially when phone calls didn't get returned right away.
"He knows how this stuff works," Sagan said. "You just gotta keep trying to get ahold of them, because they've got practices and games and all that."
He also visited College of Idaho, an NAIA school in Caldwell, Idaho, but liked the campus in Utah the best. There was also an added family factor, because he has several relatives who live near Utah Valley.
An honor student with a 3.6 GPA, Osborne will attend Utah Valley on an academic scholarship, which worked out well for a baseball program that only has 11 scholarships to offer a 35-man roster.
Osborne was a talented basketball player for a Dimond team that won the Class 4A state title this season, but baseball is the only sport he considered pursuing beyond high school.
"I loved playing basketball, but I've had more success on the baseball field," he said. "I like the feeling of baseball, just being outside."
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.