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Tilghman's Fristoe chooses Kentucky

By EDWARD MARLOWE emarlowe@paducahsun.com

From January to June, Paducah Tilghman's Jackson Fristoe saw a bump in his fastball -- moving from 82 mph to 87 mph in a matter of months.

Now, he's headed for the bump at the University of Kentucky, as the soon-to-be sophomore verbally committed to the Wildcats on Thursday afternoon.

"It's just a weight off of my shoulders," Fristoe said of his early decision. "I don't have to go out and try and get an offer. I can just try and do the best that I can â ¦ and it's just a big release. I think it's going to make me play more loose."

Fristoe's decision comes after an impressive showing at Wednesday's Prep Baseball Report (PBR) Top Prospect Games in Lexington, where the Blue Tornado star touched the high 80s with his heat and the low 70s with his curve.

Already in strong contact with UK officials following a January camp, Fristoe said the Wildcats staff and head coach Nick Mingione "liked what they saw" out of him this past week -- and the two sides saw a fit.

"I've gone on a couple visits to South Carolina and Eastern Kentucky," Fristoe added. "But mostly, the reason that I committed now was because Kentucky made me a generous offer that I just couldn't pass up."

Though he's at ease with his college decision, he knows there's more work on the horizon. He'll continue to throw bullpen and long toss alongside a lifting regimen, adding muscle to his 6-foot-3, 165-pound frame.

He also has the insight of a former major leaguer in cousin Ross Wolf, who after playing at Wabash Valley College (Mt. Carmel, Illinois) spent time with the Florida Marlins, Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers from 2007-14. He originally was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 47th round of the 2001 Major League Baseball draft.

And while "The Show" is the goal of many, Fristoe's current mindset is on a First Region title and a run at Kentucky's state championship over the next three seasons of his high school career.

"I definitely want a state championship," he said. "But I want to get better and make everyone around me and the team better."

An infielder who hit .409 with 13 doubles and 29 RBIs for Tilghman this past season, Fristoe notes he'll likely move to the mound for head coach Chris Johnson next year and try to help the club build on a 25-9 finish as Second District runners-up.

Admittedly, Johnson, summer league coach and "second dad" Tremayne Donald -- and his parents -- were largely to thank for the opportunity.

Said Fristoe: "I couldn't do this without them."

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