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Rhodes grabs scholarship with Cowboys

November 11, 1999|By DAN SPEARS

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson senior Jimmy Rhodes could think of plenty of good reasons to choose Oklahoma State for his college career: great facilities, excellent coaching staff, perfect location ...

Twenty College World Series appearances.

"The last time I was on a losing team was when I was nine years old in Little League," Rhodes said. "It would be a big jump for me to go to a losing program. I don't know if I could handle that."

The right-handed pitcher won't have to worry about that after signing a letter of intent Wednesday night in front of his parents, Randy and Rita, and Jefferson coach John Lowery. He'll join the Cowboys for the 2001 season.

"I'm glad it's over; I can definitely go to sleep now," said Rhodes, whose prep record stands at 21-1 after three seasons with the Cougars. "I don't think it would have mattered if I didn't get this done early, but it's nice to have out of the way."

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That means he and the Cougars can prepare to defend their Class AAA title. Rhodes has pitched in the last two state championships, and he doesn't expect his newfound celebrity status to keep him away from a third.

"Things are going to be the same as they always have," Rhodes said. "We're just going to go out every day and do what we have to."

It's that kind of attitude that got Rhodes and fellow Cougar Josh Cenate noticed, Jefferson coach John Lowery said. Cenate signed with West Virginia last fall only to be drafted in the first round by the Orioles and sign with Baltimore.

"They've worked hard. They came in with a notoriety as good pitchers, and they didn't let that bother them," Lowery said. "It takes more than ability at this level. There's work ethic, mental ability, maturity involved, and that's what they have. The chances they've gotten reflect that."

Rhodes likes his chances in Stillwater. The Cowboys will lose several members of their pitching staff, leaving him an opportunity to grab a spot in the rotation quickly. He'll also have a comfort zone - former Hedgesville star J.R. Fitzwater is currently a freshman with the Cowboys.

"That's nice to have around," Rhodes said. "And after my first year, we said we'd probably move into an apartment together. It's a lot cheaper that way."

With a scholarship waiting, it's extra money.

"This," said Rita, "definitely helps with the bank account."

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