May 7, 2014

Stokes heads to Cleveland State for baseball

For the past four years, Jake Stokes has been a standout on both the football field and the baseball diamond for Christian Heritage School.

Now, he is ready to concentrate on his first love and a shared bond with his father, Noah Stokes, who coached him in baseball all four years of high school.

A center fielder for the Lions, the younger Stokes signed a baseball scholarship with Tennessee’s Cleve-land State Community College on Wednesday at Christian Heritage. His father will get back to being just a fan for his son next year after stepping down as Christian Heritage’s baseball coach following this season.

“I am sure further down the road I will realize how fortunate I was to play for my dad,” Jake Stokes said. “It will become something that I cherish. It hasn’t been hard. We are about the same on and off the field all of the time. He is always just Dad to me.”

Coach Stokes said the past four years have been special for both of them.

“I coached him early as a kid, but I let everyone else coach him until he got to high school,” he said. “It is a little different coaching your own son out there. It was a complete joy, and it is a double-edged sword. I am never not Dad, even when we are on the diamond.”

Jake added, with a laugh: “Now that he isn’t coaching, I am sure he will be up there for every game and he will be one of those parents running their mouth the entire game.”

The close proximity of Cleveland State was a big key in luring Stokes, and coach Stokes said they are already working on getting prepared for the next level.

“Human nature is that it helps you to have an accountability partner who says let’s go do this,” coach Stokes said. “They are giving him an opportunity and telling him to come in and contribute, and it is good for all of us. Getting to be able to drive up 30 or 40 minutes away for a game is going to be nice, too.”

Playing in Region 6-A, which featured high-quality pitching, Jake Stokes struggled early in his senior season. Out of the 15 teams in the region, six advanced to either the Class A private or Class A public state playoffs by finishing in the top 16 of their respective state power rankings. A year after making the playoffs, Christian Heritage went 10-13 in 2014 and missed out on the postseason.

“A 1-for-3 day in most high school games isn’t that good, unless you are facing some of the pitchers we were facing,” coach Stokes said. “There were seven (college) Division I pitchers (in the region), with one who will probably get drafted. That was good to get that measure of talent.

“Most high schools are going to play a strong team and a few weak teams. I think he is prepared well for the next level. The game will speed up and everyone can hit and throw, and he will hold his own.”

Jake Stokes was selected to The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Baseball Team as a junior, when he batted .366 and led the team in RBIs (26) and total bases, and was an honorable mention selection both of his previous seasons.


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