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TRA’s standout builds on school and family legacies signing with Memphis Tigers

By Thomas Sellers Jr.Connor Alexander SigningConnor Alexander to Memphis

Connor Alexander’s journey to National Signing Day picked up speed his sophomore year.
There were three landmark moments that year that made it clear the Tipton-Rosemark Academy standout would be inking a letter of national intent. On Nov. 15 in the TRA Lobby, Alexander joined his older brother Cale as Rebel Baseball players to sign to play college baseball. Cale is current at Christian Brothers University. The younger Alexander will become a Memphis Tiger.
And the three key moments that paved Connor’s play to The University of Memphis were a trip to Ft. Myers, Fla., growing a few inches in height and being there the day when big brother held his signing ceremony.
“I was hoping I would work hard to get to the same spot he was,” Connor said. “He was a motivating factor.”
Cale and Connor’s father Cal said it was clear to see that day a couple of years ago Connor had the desire and potential to play college baseball. But he wasn’t totally solid on it being a Division I school.
“I didn’t at the time (see it) because he hadn’t grown or matured yet,” Cal acknowledged. “I really figured he would be a middle infielder at a D-II. But he grew up and developed into a D-I pitcher. It’s a great opportunity and he’s in the right place with Memphis.
“What changed?” he asked rhetorically, “about seven inches in height and about 20 mph on his fastball.”
Connor can remember when the fastball started to get more zip.
“I’ve always pitched but I wasn’t a main pitcher,” he recalled. “I was kind of a reliever. Then the summer before my sophomore year we when down to Ft. Myers and I had a really good tournament. I threw it 84 mph.”
A good showing in Florida, inspiration from big brother and hitting a growth spurt fell in place with his work ethic.
“Connor has worked extremely hard,” TRA Head Baseball Coach Brad Smith said. “I can tell at a young age that he was extremely gifted, athleticly. He’s very knowledgeable at the game of baseball. He contributed in our State Tournament run in 2012 as a sophomore. At that time I knew he was going to be something special.
“Last year on the mound and at the plate, he did a tremendous job for us,” he added. “I’m looking for the same things out of him this year.”
Over the years Smith has grown to expect good things from the Alexander brothers. Cale and Connor played key roles in TRA reaching State a couple of seasons ago.
And at that time many players signed to play college baseball like Cale, Andrew Ralston, Cody McIgiore, Jordan Wilson and David Owen to Arkansas State.
Owen was the third Rebel in school history to sign to a Division I school joining Lyndsey Sterling (Memphis Softball) and Jacob Arnett (Lipscomb Basketball). Now Connor is the fourth TRA student/athlete to accomplish the feat.
“It’s a pretty good honor,” Connor said. “I chose Memphis because I really like the coaching staff. It felt like a family. I really like Coach Schoenrock and their program is really good.”
Daron Schoenrock is the leader of the Memphis Tigers entering his 10th season with the club. Schoenrock led the Tigers to the program’s seventh 30-win season and second straight since joining Conference USA in 1995. The Memphis Tigers will be a part of the American Athletic Conference this upcoming season.
Connor’s road toward playing for an AAC team started when he was 3 years old following behind Cale. With their Dad coaching, the Alexander brothers put on a show on local ball fields for their mom Kim.
Along with the talent and skills to be a Division I player, Kim noted Connor has a winning personality, work ethic and intelligence that made him hot recruit.
“He’s a very caring and very kind, supportive child,” she noted. “He’s hard working and a good student. He’s a good friend.
“When Cale signed he was able to see that,” Kim added. “And that gave him a goal that he knew he wanted to play in college. Since he was little he started out with Cale being at his ball games.”
Grabbing a helmet and running the bases, Cal saw something special in his younger son.
“At 3 years old he started playing and you could see the hand and eye coordination then,” he recalled. “You could see it, you could see something was there.”
From Cal to Schoenrock to Smith, they all have seen the gifts Connor possess on the diamond. Smith said it has been a blessing having Connor, Cale and the entire Alexander family be a part of Rebel Baseball.
“Their family has been a part of the baseball program here, six of my seven years at this school,” he said. “I’ve had either one of the two a part of our baseball program. Just good baseball family and they under the game at high level. And they both have the athletic ability to go to the next level. They both had not just solid high school careers, but very, very great high school careers.”
Smith said good fortune has come Connor’s way making a Division I caliber player. But he said Connor’s keys to reaching his dream were simple.
“He has unbelievable composure on the mound,” he noted. “He has the ball in his hands, he doesn’t get rattled. He has a feel for the game  unlike people his age. That’s what it takes to be a contributor at the next level to keep your composure and not get too high or get too low. He works his tail off but he has been God-gifted.
“And he has worked to make it even better,” Smith continued. “He has a tremendous feel for the baseball when he’s on the mound. And a command like no other I’ve ever coached. He has plus stuff. His stuff is ready for college right now. I expect good stuff out of him. And he wants it. When you have the gift from God and the passion to get better, that makes you a great player.”
Cal and Kim said they are blessed with three great children. The youngest is Kallie, an eighth grade basketball and volleyball player at TRA.
“We’re so proud of all of our kids,” Cal concluded. “To have two go on to play in college, certainly means we made some right choices in how we raised our kids, what school they went to. We especially thank Rosemark and Coach Smith he has done to make things possible and bless them with the opportunity to go on to the next level. We’re very grateful.”

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December 2013
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