On Sunday, Kavanaugh, a Kodiak High School senior, signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball for Mayville State University, an NAIA school in North Dakota.
He inked his intent at a ceremony during Kodiak’s preseason baseball practice with his parents, a dozen teammates and coaches on hand to watch.
“It is great for the younger kids to see that you can actually continue to play, you can do this beyond high school,” Kodiak baseball coach Rick Langfitt said.
Growing up in Kodiak, Kavanaugh never envisioned playing college baseball.
“It means a lot,” Kavanaugh said. “I never would have thought that I would get the chance to play out of high school. Coming from a small town, not many people get the opportunity to.”
Kavanaugh joins Connor Murphy as Kodiak seniors who decided to continue their playing careers at Mayville. Murphy signed a football letter of intent in November.
Mayville assistant baseball coach and recruiting coordinator Pete Pratt said Kavanaugh fits the mold of what the Comets look for in student athletes. He also liked what he saw in game videos of Kavanaugh.
“I think he is a slick fielding middle infielder,” Pratt said. “And like every incoming player, he needs to get bigger, faster and stronger. He has the skill set.”
Kavanaugh has been a second baseman since he started playing at the age of 7. He prides himself on his defensive prowess and has started at second the past two years for Kodiak.
“I like playing middle infield, because I like double plays and fielding ground balls,” Kavanaugh said. “I’ve practiced so much fielding groundballs that it comes easy to me.”
With the game on the line, Langfitt said he wants the ball hit to Kavanaugh, who only made one error last season, which led the team.
“What I like about him is he is willing to do all the little stuff right to be a really good second baseman,” Langfitt said. “He is very fundamentally sound and that really helps.”
Kavanaugh did not go on a recruiting trip to Mayville, but has been exchanging emails with Pratt for several months.
He also talked to Murphy, who visited the school in November.
“They said it was really nice,” Kavanaugh said. “The sports facilities are really nice and you can talk to anybody in town — it is like Kodiak.”
Kavanaugh, who aspires to be like second baseman Dustin Pedoria of the Boston Red Sox, said Langfitt has helped him become the player he is today.
“He has taught me pretty much everything on the field and he has taught me to respect the game and respect your teammates,” Kavanaugh said.
Mayville competes in the Dakota Athletic Conference and has made 19 NAIA national playoff appearances in the last 21 years. The Comets currently have two Alaska players on their roster and Pratt hopes to increase that number.
“When I look at it, Alaska is untapped,” Pratt said.
Kavanaugh, who plans to major in either physical education or sports management, said he can now focus on his senior season, since he has signed.
“It gets a lot of stress out of the way,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about where I am going. I have it all planned out and get to enjoy the season.”
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at email@example.com.