FORT ASHBY - On Sunday, Dec. 2, a crew assembled at the Wheelhouse Academy Baseball and Softball training facility in Fort Ashby for a picture opportunity. Frankfort senior Caleb Hare, his parents Ernie and Lisa, grandfather Bill Gordon, Frankfort head baseball coach Matt Miller, coach Mike Hutchinson, and West Virginia Prep Baseball Report's Josh Kuykendall were all smiles, and a time of celebration quickly turned to a time of reflection.
By Chapin Jewell
FORT ASHBY - On Sunday, Dec. 2, a crew assembled at the Wheelhouse Academy Baseball and Softball training facility in Fort Ashby for a picture opportunity. Frankfort senior Caleb Hare, his parents Ernie and Lisa, grandfather Bill Gordon, Frankfort head baseball coach Matt Miller, coach Mike Hutchinson, and West Virginia Prep Baseball Report’s Josh Kuykendall were all smiles, and a time of celebration quickly turned to a time of reflection.
There was talk of Little League, travel ball, fall ball, of travelling throughout what seemed like every hill and holler in West Virginia every summer when Caleb was little to get from game to game, tournament to tournament. Caleb’s mother Lisa recounted all those times uniforms were washed in hotel bathtubs and sinks. All that time, all that travel, all that money, all those memories, culminating in this joyous occasion. Surrounded by supporters, Caleb Hare signed with Concord University to continue his baseball and academic careers.
It’s a common story, all those games, the travel and the time. All that energy and money spent doing what your kid loves to do most. What is uncommon, however, is Caleb Hare, the player, and more importantly, the person.
“Caleb the person is better than Caleb the baseball player, and that’s a huge compliment because I think the world of Caleb as a baseball player. Academically, he’s amazing in the classroom, he works hard. He’s respectful, he’s caring of his teammates,” said Hare’s head baseball coach at Frankfort, Matt Miller.
“To get to be as successful as Caleb is it starts at a young age, you have to work at it. The family sacrifices a ton, in terms of financially and with time. It’s a reward when you get a scholarship like this because it pays it back, in many ways, it’s an investment,” Miller explains. It’s also more importantly about time well spent, time bonding with family, and with teammates and their families.
Last year, in Hare’s junior baseball season, the Falcons won their region and advanced all the way to Charleston for the state tournament. Frankfort got to within one game of a state championship game appearance.
Hare cherishes the memories of last season. “My greatest memory is probably my whole junior year. My teammates were the ones I grew up with playing baseball. We played in the Little League state tournament all four years we played, placing third twice. I knew the year would be special before it even started, we just had all that chemistry and enjoyed playing together,” Hare reflects.
Caleb’s varsity playing time at Frankfort began in his sophomore year. As Coach Miller explains, “His sophomore year he got an opportunity, one of our guys went down and he never got off the field after that because he earned his spot.”
Hare explained it like this, “Our second baseman was hurt so I was put in mid-game. My first at bat I got a hit and then made a couple plays. I then got to start every game after that point. I did very well I think for only being a sophomore.”
In that sophomore season, Hare had a .371 batting average and an on base percentage of .452. Hard work in the off-season, and staying in shape through workouts and playing other sports set Hare and his teammates up for a successful junior campaign. His junior campaign was very successful.
Hare explains, “My junior year I started the whole season either at second base or shortstop and I also got to pitch. I had a batting average of .393, a little better than the year before. I had the highest on base percentage on the team at .504 and I only had six errors out of 96 plays. My earned run average was 2.13 in 23 innings with 27 strikeouts.”
Coach Miller describes Hare’s junior season as “phenomenal.” “He batted right near .400 for the season and his value on the pitchers mound was so important to us because we could put him in every day. He had a very low earned run average and was very successful with the strikeouts he had this season. He was a huge factor in our tremendous run into the state tournament.”
Hare first caught the eye of Concord University while playing against them this fall as part of West Virginia Prep Baseball Report’s showcase team, under the direction of Josh Kuykendall. Hare explains, “I played their team this fall, they are a very fundamentally sound team. They crushed us when we played, but I did pretty good and that’s when they took notice of me and now I’m here signing with them.”
Hare credits Frankfort’s Coach Miller with helping him greatly on this journey, really going above and beyond. “When I got asked to do a visit to Concord which is four and a half hours away, he took me because my parents couldn’t. Some players aren’t as lucky to have a coach that is willing to do things like that. He has done as much as possible to help not just me, but all the players that are willing to get to the next level. Also, Coach Kuykendall and his WV PBR is a great thing, I’m glad I decided to do that, and Shane Corwell and the Wheelhouse Academy had a great impact on helping me get better,” Hare explains.
None of this, however, would be possible without the support of his parents and family, his “greatest supporters.” According to Hare, “I couldn’t ask for anything more from them. They traveled all around for me during the Little League games to now. The amount of time they have given up for me is extraordinary. I’m glad I can give back to them in a way by getting a scholarship and saving money for them.”
Hare also credits Frankfort High School for preparing him academically for the rigors of college academia up ahead. “Frankfort is known for their academics and Mr. Riley (principal) does a great job on focusing on it as much as possible. The school helps push students to get ready for college,” stated Hare.
The talented infielder and pitcher chose Concord because of the scholarship opportunity and because they have the major he wants to study. As for baseball, Hare says, “The baseball program has been good for awhile now, they compete for their conference championship almost every year.”
As a young sophomore, Caleb Hare was given the chance to come into a game and replace an injured varsity player. He got a hit his first at bat and immediately began making plays in the field. From that point, he’s never left the field, contributing for the Falcons on the plate, in the field and on the mound. Caleb Hare made the best of a golden opportunity.
With still a year to play at Frankfort, there’s work still to do in high school, another trip to Charleston is certainly the plan. His next big opportunity comes next year, 4 1/2 hours away at Concord University in Athens, West Virginia. We’ve seen Caleb make the most of an opportunity before, we’ll be watching as he makes the most of this one.