Norwell junior Jonah Patten still has two seasons of high school baseball left to play, but he's already calling himself a Razorback.
Patten made a verbal commitment Friday to continue his career at the University of Arkansas, one of the top college baseball programs in the country. Arkansas advanced to the semifinals of the College World Series last spring.
“When you have your dream in front of you, you have to snag it,” Patten said. “It's great knowing I'm committed to a school with a chance to go to Omaha every single year. The track record they have, the wins they've had, they average 10,000 fans and have a great support system. I'm very blessed they took interest in me and think highly of me. It gives me goose bumps.”
Patten, who is 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, earned his reputation as a strong pitcher with good movement and a big-time fastball playing for Norwell during the school season and the Indiana Bulls during the summer. He said he has consistently thrown in the 88 to 91 mph range and hit 92 mph three times at the Midwest Future Games recently.
Patten visited Arkansas on Wednesday and left the school convinced that's the place for him two years from now. He had narrowed his choices to Arkansas, Alabama and Missouri. He said he knew he wanted to play in the south and in the Southeastern Conference.
“I left (Arkansas') campus and on my way back with my brother Noah and my father Jim, I told them, 'I feel like this is the place I want to go,' ” Patten said. “I felt a connection with everybody there.”
Patten talked it over further with his parents, Jim and Carla of Ossian, before calling Arkansas and accepting the scholarship offer Friday.
Patten's coaches with the Indiana Bulls, as well as college recruiters, feel Patten can still improve as a pitcher and gain velocity to throw in the 94-95 mph range, he said. He said he has improved his strength working with AWP (Athletes With Purpose).
Patten said he remembers well attending the high school state finals game in 2007 when current Oakland A's pitcher Jarrod Parker helped Norwell to a championship. Several members of that Norwell team played college baseball.
“It meant the world to me to play under Coach (Kelby) Weybright,” Patten said. “I looked up to all those kids who went through the Norwell system, including my brother Noah, who is a big part of the reason I'm the player I am today.”