The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

June 15, 2012

Belcher, James sign college baseball letters of intent

WEBB CITY, Mo. — Gage Belcher and Klay James are the latest Webb City High School baseball players to sign letters of intent.

The recent graduates signed with Kansas junior colleges on Friday.

Belcher, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound right-handed pitcher, signed with Hesston College. The right-handed James, 6-0, 155-pound left fielder, signed with Labette Community College of Parsons.

Hesston’s Larks, in their first season under Bob Ramseyer, finished 23-21 overall this past spring for a fourth consecutive winning season. Veteran coach Aaron Keal guided Labette to a 22-27 record.

Belcher and James each contributed three varsity seasons at Webb City. They also started two years apiece on the football team.

Said Webb City baseball coach Chris Taylor: “Really, I believe it’s a good fit for both of them. College is a different world. They understand that. Definitely, they have to study hard and work just as hard on the baseball field.

“Both players, after talking with their respective college coaches, seem optimistic about their opportunities,” Taylor said. “It’s always exciting when you receive an opportunity to continue your playing career and get an education.”

James (outfielder/shortstop) and Belcher (pitcher/first base/third base) are playing this summer for Taylor’s Webb City Post 322 American Legion team.

Belcher said that Larks coach Ramseyer indicated he’d see some duty at first base. Keal indicated that James would have a chance to play some as a middle infielder.

Webb City finished 16-8 overall and 4-3 in the Central Ozark Conference Large Division in 2012.

Belcher hit .339 and was 2-5 with a 4.43 ERA on the mound. James averaged .306 with 25 RBI and 24 runs scored. Each player hit six doubles.

Belcher plans to room with fellow freshman Cory Kerbs (an outfielder) of Nevada at Hesston. James may room with freshman second baseman Tanner Grant of Columbus. Grant’s stepfather is Missouri Southern assistant Denny Vilela.

Gage, who plans to study nursing, is the son of Lee Ann Elder and Monty Belcher. Klay, who plans to begin work toward a liberal arts major, is the son of Kim and Dennis Vincent.

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