As baseball off-season opportunities have taken him to Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina in the past year, Jack Labosky has developed an affinity for the Southeast.
So when a scholarship offer came from Duke University coach Chris Pollard recently, it didn't take long for the Clovis North High third baseman/pitcher to accept.
"The campus is nice; the coaches are awesome. They have good academics, and I really like the Southern region," he says. "It seems like a perfect fit, and it seems like a place I could live for a long time."
Fortunately for Clovis North coach Chris Patrick and the Broncos' program, Labosky's not leaving for a year.
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The junior, following one of the most impressive seasons in Central Section annals -- a .437 batting average and an 11-0 pitching record with a 0.81 ERA against high-caliber competition -- is The Bee's Baseball Player of the Year.
He led Clovis North to a 27-6 record, Division I title and final No. 5 state ranking by Cal-Hi Sports, but his eyes already are out of the rearview mirror: "I'm really proud of how I did. The team meshed well, and my teammates put me in spots to make an impact. But it's one of those things you can't harp on for a long time because, as soon as you turn around and look back, the next season will be here. As a team, we want to repeat and do it again next year."
But how to repeat Labosky's numbers?
Pitching: Clovis North won all 13 games in which he appeared, including 12 starts, as he was mentored for the third season by assistant Trevor Gray, who "sort of sculpted my pitching."
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound right-hander gave up one or no earned runs in 11 of the starts, including conquests of defending D-I champion Bullard (a 5-1 victory) and 2013 state-ranked teams Buchanan (3-1, 4-0) and Clovis (3-1). In 80 innings, he gave up 48 hits and 17 walks, striking out 81.
Hitting: The Broncos' cleanup batter swatted eight doubles, one triple and three home runs, scored 25 runs and drove in 22 while compiling percentages of .655 slugging and .558 on-base. He also stole nine bases in 11 attempts.
"What I'm most proud of," Patrick says of the student-athlete with a 3.6 GPA, "is Jack is getting it done on the field, in the classroom and in the community that has a goal for all kids. He's a humble kid. He emphasizes team and he meant it. To see him come through with a year like he had is pretty special."
Labosky's family tree has special limbs, also.
At the University of Kansas, father Vince was an NCAA javelin champion and mother Kim was a heptathlete. Today, they are teachers in the Central and Sanger unified districts. Originally, Dad is from New Jersey and Mom from New York.
"They tell me to do my own thing," says Labosky, who first caught the attention of Duke's coaching staff after his sophomore year.
He's been told by Blue Devils coach Pollard and recruiting coordinator Josh Jordan they expect him to play third base and hit "toward the middle of the lineup."
"I think I'd like to get into broadcast journalism," Labosky says. "I think it would be cool to be an analyst."