COTTONWOOD, Alabama — Kim McCardle on Wednesday was asked what normally goes through her mind whenever she’s sitting in the stands watching her son, Cottonwood (Ala.) High baseball standout Ben McCardle, play the game he loves.
“I’m always concerned about him as an individual player,” Kim McCardle said. “I try not to compare his talents with others, but I love to watch him pitch and guess which combination of pitches he comes up with. I also like to see him get along with his team. That means they trust each other.”
It is, in fact, because of how Ben McCardle has gone about adjusting comfortably to varsity baseball that he appears destined to fulfill his dream of playing collegiate baseball once his prep career ends.
A 15-year-old rising sophomore for Cottonwood, Ben McCardle was as good as advertised this past season for a Bears team that finished third in the four-team Alabama Area 2A standings.
Given how the speedy 5-foot-6, 140-pound ace had performed this past season, it’s safe to assume that with three full seasons of varsity ball ahead of him, the possibility exists that college scouts and recruiters will almost certainly inquire about his services in the coming years.
“My goals are clear for me to play baseball outside of high school,” Ben McCardle said. “I live baseball and it’s a drive for me like no other. I want to get a degree on Agriculture whether it is in Agronomy and Soils or some other branch of the Ag family.”
To grasp a thorough understanding of why Ben McCardle has his mind set on pursuing a degree in Agriculture, look no further than his job in the comfortable confines of Cottonwood, one of Alabama’s smallest cities that is comprised of just 1,278 residents, according to a 2013 census report.
Ben, along with his older brother, Cody, work regularly on his family’s watermelon farm, something about which seems more like a hobby, of sorts, for the two teenagers, considering the gig has afforded them to travel frequently throughout the Mid-South.
“The boys have been throwing melons since they were five,” Kim McCardle said. “They were on the Birmingham farmers market since they were in diapers. Now they go between games and stay in our camper and resale and wholesale to people from Arkansas to Indiana from Mississippi to Ohio. It’s just part of life.”
Fortunately for Ben McCardle, hurling melons seemingly has benefited him mightily on the mound, although Cottonwood coaches Danny Coachman and Jake Kirkland often assigned him to outfield duties.
Not bad for a newcomer who, given how masterfully he performed this past season, is determined to upgrade his mechanics during the summer months.
That’s because Ben is a fixture for the Dothan (Ala.) Post 12 Youth baseball team that competes regularly throughout the region.
Dothan Post 12 is scheduled to play this weekend in the Junior State Championship in Hartselle, Alabama.
Aside from competing on the competitive circuit, Ben McCardle often makes it a point to work on his pitching and hitting fundamentals with members of the Cottonwood coaching staff.
As he tells it, because of the lofty aspirations to which he’s clinging with regards to playing at the collegiate level, there is no time to slow down.
At least not right now. Not with a potential athletic scholarship at stake.
“I have just started quick videos of my work and set up a profile and intend to be in touch with several colleges,” Ben McCardle said. “I want people to look back and remember me as Benjamin McCardle. A hard-working family guy who loves his baseball diamond and his farm life.”
And, for a 15-year-old rising baseball standout, Ben McCardle seems to be a kid who customarily says all of the right things.
“Sitting around never gets you anywhere,” he said. “You have to work and work hard but respect people as you take the journey. That’s who I am.”
Spoken like a student athlete who not only boasts dreams of playing major college baseball someday, but one who is destined to savor a bright future.
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Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.