(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- After visiting the campus of William Woods University, Charleston senior Ethan Browning was sold.
"The coaches were great, the atmosphere was great and the players I met on the team were great," he said. "It's a small school and that's kind of like my town so I figured I'd blend in just fine."
Browning signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Williams Woods under head coach Darren Munns on Tuesday.
Munns' interests were peaked not just by what Browning has accomplished during his four years at Charleston, but with what could come later on.
"He's the type of person we want in our program, first and foremost," Munns said. "As a baseball player, I think the upside is tremendous. We have a full-time strength and conditioning coach and I think he's really going to benefit from that because he has a great frame right now. He's got a great baseball skill-set."
Browning, who stands at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, has been instrumental in the recent success pertaining to both Charleston high school baseball as well as the Charleston Squirrels Sr. Babe Ruth squad.
Browning, who had a .348 batting average, 24 RBI and 14 doubles last high school season, sent the Bluejays into the Class 2, District 3 championship game just this past season giving up two runs in a 3-2 win over Meadow Heights. Charleston would fall to Scott City in the finals.
He was also part of the Charleston Squirrels' three straight Missouri state championships including a trip to the Sr. Babe Ruth World Series in 2008 after winning the Midwest Plains Regional.
"He's such a great kid and he works hard," Charleston head coach Michael Minner said. "He does things right. He just keeps getting bigger and stronger and I think they just landed a kid with a huge upside where you don't know how good he's going to be."
Munns believes Browning will have a chance to produce immediately for the Owls, who is an NAIA University and ended last season with a 33-22 record, with a spot opening up at third base.
"He's going to have a chance to compete right away as a freshman," said Munns. "It's just going to depend on how quickly he develops but, I really think he's going to push to play a lot as a freshman.
"That says a lot about what type of person he is and the kind of program he's been involved in here at Charleston."
Browning is hoping to major in business with an agriculture emphasis.
"I'm going to work as hard as I can and do whatever he tells me to do," Browning said. "I'll play wherever they want me to play.
"I'm looking forward to it. I'm just ready to get up there and play."