CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio - Before they ever dreamed of playing in the College World Series, three Kent State University baseball players played together at Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls.
Warriors head baseball coach Chris Kaczmar said he could tell right away the players were special athletes, and people, when they were on his team.
KSU's starting pitcher for Wednesday night's College World Series matchup against South Carolina is Strongsville native Tyler Skulina. He's a righty and 2010 graduate of Walsh Jesuit.
Former Walsh teammates David Starn and Tim Faix, both left-handed pitchers, also play for Kent.
"It's just an overwhelming sense of pride and excitement. There's a buzz in the air for what's going on at Kent State. We're so thrilled," said Kaczmar. "The amount of love we have for our three players and really the whole coaching staff at Kent State we like to think of as an extension of our family."
More than a hundred top high school baseball prospects gathered at Walsh Jesuit High School to run drills for scouts from colleges and the major leagues on Wednesday. Players were timed in the 60 yard dash and put through a host of other drills under the scorching sun.
Coach Kaczmar started the event "Showcase For The Cure" to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Several friends of the Walsh Jesuit community have died from cancer, including 2002 baseball player Kevin Neff who was just a sophomore at the time.
Cleveland Indians President Mark Shapiro delivered a heartfelt and inspiring talk to baseball players and their families.
"It takes more than talent to play baseball at the big league level."
Shapiro looks for certain qualities in every ball player. Toughness, someone who never uses excuses, as well as a person who is dependable, consistent and has character are his top prospects.
Asked about Kent State's special season "It's another point of pride. Great coaching and players. It's great to see so many local kids represented as well," Shapiro said. "To me, it's representative of better baseball in northeast Ohio than people are aware of and it's waking up the country to that."