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TRA standout proves doubters wrong signing with CBU

By Thomas Sellers Jr.Blain Curtis signing Blain Curtis to CBU

Blain Curtis’ field of dreams started in Memphis on the diamond of Christian Brothers University.
Before he was eligible for Kindergarten at Tipton-Rosemark Academy, Curtis became a fixture at Buc Baseball games cheering on his uncle Zac Scott.
“He was always involved,” Scott recalled. “He was probably 2 or so when we started and 5 years old or so when we ended. At the end of the game, he would run the bases with us.”
Now Curtis plans to resume his days of running the bases at CBU after signing a letter of intent Nov. 22 on the TRA campus.
“I’m proud of him,” Scott said. “Going to CBU is a really great choice for him. He’ll have a lot of great fun playing baseball while getting a great education.”
Scott was a standout at CBU from 1998 to 2001 winning a Gulf South Conference Player of the Year award. Curtis hopes to follow in those footsteps.
But the TRA Rebel senior is just happy to have the opportunity to play on the next level after a tough recruiting process. With record-breaking numbers for TRA, Curtis received interest from several Division I programs.
“He’s always been told how small he was,” TRA Head Coach Brad Smith said. “We can’t lie about his size. He is what he is. He’s 5 foot, 7, give or take. When he swings the bat and plays the game of baseball, he plays to a 6’2 level.
“I’ve tried to tell college recruiters that for the last two years,” he continued. “It’s hard for them to get over his stature. And I do understand that because I was a small guy myself. I sympathize with him.”
According to Blain’s parents Ashley and Sean many colleges were impressed with their son’s numbers and skills. But they cited his height as the reason they wouldn’t offer.
When things looked bleek, Sean kept encouraging his son.
“Just work hard,” Sean told his son. “Don’t let anybody tell you, ‘You can’t do something. If you want it you can get it.’ That’s what I wanted him to know that hard work will get you somewhere. Good things happen to good people.”
CBU Head Coach Phil Goodwin, who is familiar with the TRA program signing players like Cale Alexander and Jordan Wilson, was ready to give Curtis a chance.
“It’s pretty relieving because I was pretty stressed,” Curtis acknowledged. “Early in the month when nobody had really offered me, I got stressed. But now it’s pretty relieving. I’m so excited.
“I put in a lot of hard work in the offseason even though I played basketball,” he continued. “I still worked out after practice. And my Mom and Dad always pushed me to workout even when I didn’t have to. That made me a better player.”
Curtis said the encouragement of his parents and family helped him in recent weeks during the recruiting process. But it was members of the Class of 2012 who paved the way for Curtis on how to handle reaching the next level.
“Cale’s class always pushed me to be better and do the right things and I’ll go somewhere,” he recalled. “I always kept that in the back of my mind. It’s been there ever since.”
Curtis had plenty of role models within the TRA Baseball program in recent years. Under Coach Smith’s guidance, nine previous Rebels signed letters of intent.
Curtis made it No. 10 and along with classmate Connor Alexander, they gave TRA it’s first duo to sign during early signing period.
While Alexander’s arm earned him a scholarship to The University of Memphis, it was Curtis’ bat that opened the door for him to play college baseball.
The 5-foot, 7-inch speedster has been one of the leaders in batting average the last two seasons helping TRA reach the 2012 State Tournament.
Last season Curtis batted .389 with nine doubles and a homer. He added to his school record in triples with three. With 37 hits, Curtis also stole 20 bases. Reaching base 32 times on walks, Curtis scored 45 times in 33 games.
Smith said numbers like that make it easy to overlook the numbers underneath height on the stat sheet for Curtis.
“He works and goes about playing the game of baseball, I can care less what size he is,” he said. “Because the ball does things off his bat that it doesn’t do off     a guy who is 6’2 or 6’3. He’s been a great hitter for us and a great player for us. He’s put up great numbers. He’s been second to none since he’s been in the lineup for us.”
Curtis has the school record for triple in a season and career. His path toward setting Rosemark records started officially in Brighton at the age of 4. After stops for youth league teams in Covington and Jackson, Curtis sharpen his skills with the Memphis Tigers traveling team.
But Ashley said the entire process to CBU began at CBU.
“That’s where Blain started baseball,” she said. “Zac was at CBU playing. Blain learned all the numbers on the back of the jersey and could tell you the walk-out song of every player. That’s were he found the love.”
Sean said the signing day is not only a happy day for the Curtis family.
“It’s a good fit,” he said. “And it’s all about education. He’ll definitely get a good education. If he plays hard there and keeps overcoming adversity, you never know.
“A lot of the players (from Zac’s teams) are e-mailing us saying, ‘Wow, we can remember him running around,’” he added. “‘Now we’ve all graduated, 12 years out. And here he is following in our footsteps.’”
Curtis said before he steps foot on the CBU campus as a student, he wants to take care of business for the Rebels.
“I won’t be complacenent at all,” Blain said. “We’re looking forward toward getting past the district tournament and hopefully going to State. I think we can do it.”
Smith said he knows his consistent leadoff hitter will be a key contributor in 2014 for TRA. And he knows he will continue to play big once he arrives at CBU.
“The kid understand how to hit and how to get the barrel to the ball and how to be explosive when he gets there,” he concluded. “That’s what people don’t understand. He’s a true gap to gap hitter and a double- and triple machine.”

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