MOVING ON — Wade commits to playing baseball at Purdue.
Herald Photo / Jenn Goad
MOVING ON — Wade commits to playing baseball at Purdue. Herald Photo / Jenn Goad

Over the course of a high school career, some student-athletes work hard to gain recognition of collegiate programs in order to continue their playing career at the next level. 

Jack Perkins and Kyle Wade have spent the last four years cultivating and refining their skills, and the work has paid off. Perkins was offered a spot at the University of Louisville in the baseball program, and Wade was courted by Purdue University to join its baseball staff as well.

Perkins didn’t have to think too hard about which sport he would continue playing in college, as baseball is near and dear to his heart.

“It’s been a sport that I’ve been able to find a peace within me. It’s my getaway sport. It’s a sport that no matter what I’m doing, if I’m down, if I’m up, I can go do it, and I know it’s always been there,” said Perkins. 

Hard-throwing Perkins said he was looking forward to working with Coach Roger Williams, who is known for developing pitchers.

“Coach Williams is the top pitching coach in the country. He develops guys, improves velocity. That’s something that he’ll really do for me. I am a guy that can go right after guys and throw hard and try and throw a fastball by them, so he’s going to help me do that even better than I can now,” Perkins said. “Not only is he good at adding velo, but he is good at placement. He knows how to control the velo, and that’s really where he comes into play. A lot of guys can throw 95. He’s going to help me put it wherever I want to.”

For Wade, it was a more difficult choice.

“[Baseball] is just something I love. Being on the mound, controlling the game, every time you throw the ball something big is going to happen either for you or for the other team. Football was part of my life for a long time so deciding between those two sports was really tough. I fell in love with Purdue when I was there,” he said. 

Ultimately, Wade said his father asked him one simple question as he narrowed down his choices.

“My dad said, ‘If baseball was taken away from me, would I still go there?’ said Wade. “The answer was yes.”

The Wildkat baseball team is looking to have a big spring season, and both Perkins and Wade are hungry to pursue a deep run in the IHSAA State tournament after their early exit last season.

“The biggest moment that sticks out in my mind is the loss to Zionsville last year in Sectional. Everyone looks at it like, ‘Wow, you guys lost that game,’” Perkins said. “I think it’s a big moment for us because of that reason alone. We were the favorite, and we lost. But now we have to put it all together. This is our last season to do something big.”

Varsity coach Sean Swan said the guys were ready for the next step, and these two young men were two as good as you would get.

“As good of baseball players as they are, they’re even better individuals. You see it in the things they do in the community and behind the scenes that don’t get any publicity,” he said. “Both these guys have been varsity players since freshmen year. They’ve matured and taken more steps into taking that leadership role. Being leaders in other sports, I think, only benefits them. Their peers respect them. They’re not vocal, screamers, or yellers but when they say things, people listen.”

Wade and Perkins, best friends off the field, said they would remember the friendships as much as playing the games. 

“This group of seniors has played together for a while now. We know what we’re good at and know what we’re not good at and what we need to work on. We can tell each other when we’re doing good and what we need to do better. This season, I think we can do some big things if we work together. I think we’ll be able to do some special things,” said Wade.

Perkins echoed Wade, calling the group a “big, happy family.”

“I think it’s the everyday grind we go through. Being part of this group of guys, we might not have the titles to show for it, but we’re one big, happy family. We’ve been part of it since freshman year,” Perkins said. “We’ve come together, and it’s just the friendships and memories we’ve made along the way, not necessarily the accomplishments we’ve had.”