War Eagle Pair Has Lofty Goals

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ROGERS, Ark. -- The Rogers Heritage War Eagles have an embarrassment of riches on the baseball diamond this season.

Not one, but two potential professional players are suiting up in the orange and blue in senior catcher Blake Baxendale and pitcher Hunter Wood.

Baxendale, brother of Arkansas pitcher D.J. Baxendale, committed to the Hogs last year, but many project him to be a high pick in the June’s Major League Baseball amateur player draft.

“I’m in a win-win situation,” Baxendale said. “Either I’m going to play professional baseball, or I’m going to play at the University of Arkansas, which is a lot of kids’ dreams, not only in the state of Arkansas, but in the country.”

Wood is a tall, lanky right-hander who pitches in the low nineties. After initially committing to Arkansas in 2010, he decommitted and signed with Howard County Junior College in Big Spring, Tx., though he too has big league teams scouting him.

“Same way with Blake, we’re both talking to teams,” he said. “But we also have to focus on this season as well.”

This season could be a special one. The War Eagles are back-to-back 7A-West champions, but still haven’t broken through and captured a state title.

“I know I want to win a state championship, win conference again, and just be better,” Wood said. “Pitch to contact and just have better outings this year.”

Still, the prospect of playing big-time college baseball, or possibly professionally is a tough one to ignore.

“It’s definitely something that’s always in the back of my mind. I can’t just push it aside,” Baxendale said. “But the high school season is what is really important to me right now. I want to win a state championship. I don’t have a ring yet.”

The War Eagles begin 7A-West play Tuesday afternoon when they take on Fayetteville.