Many times the difference between reaching goals and coming up short is found in the inability to listen to the advice or the unwillingness to follow through. Jacob Ray, a 2021 graduate out of Southern Alamance High School in Graham, NC, seems to have both of those attributes at his disposal as he has repeatedly proven he can take coaching and execute to the standard set.
A conversation with the junior, who bats and throws rigthty, quickly reveals it is his positive attitude which influences his ability to connect with those opportunities he’s been provided on the diamond. That mindset is evidenced in his demeanor and in the fact that he can play practically anywhere on the field. His 6’2” frame and the athleticism he brings to the table are also huge factors that allow his mental game to elevate his skills into performance.
Jacob Ray is a young man who has learned lessons, both from experiences and from coaches. According to him, he wasn’t always so positive. In fact, Jacob says it took a basketball coach sitting him down 2-3 years ago to explain how his attitude impacts how he performs to realize his approach needed to change.
And he has taken advantage of his new view on how to play the game – whether it’s as a point guard for his basketball team or in a baseball uniform as an infielder, an outfielder, or even a pitcher. That’s right Ray will comfortably find himself in any of those spots as member of Southern Alamance Patriots baseball program or as a Dirtbag, with whom he joined in the summer of 2019.
The decision to be a Dirtbag came from some multiple influences. Hearing of the positive experiences some high school teammates had in the organization along with viewing the positive messages the Bags convey on social media platorms, all made Ray seem – well, positive he should make a move to the black and gold.
While Jacob says he’s just getting started in the recruiting process at this point, he notes that after spending the summer and fall with the Dirtbags he’s been on plenty of college campuses that have piqued his interest. Places with top facilities that offer a sense of development to their players are high on his list. And an institution with high caliber academic offerings is also an important quality he will consider to make a commitment decision.
After spending the fall being coached by longtime Dirtbags coach, Tyler Drew, expect the recruiting to heat up because the kid can flat play. And he plays whatever spot he’s needed with the same energy and passion, making transitions to multiple positions easy and effective. For Drew the results are what has been most noticable.
Though Ray is a self-described “put the ball in play” hitter, Tyler Drew adds his plate presence goes beyond that by saying, “At the plate, Ray was the table setter as our lead-off guy, and he always set the tone for the offense.”
Which should come as no surprise as he was also the lead-off as a sophomore on the varsity squad for his Southern Alamance Patriots.
His attitude even shines through when called to the bump to log important innings as a pitcher for his squad with his low 80’s fastball. As Drew comments, “Ray is a bulldog on the mound. He would take the ball in any situation, and is the ultimate competitor.”
But it’s back to the listening and the willingness that provide these recognized skills and so much more. Asked to make a move to the outfield, Ray saw it as an opportunity. He noted he learned if he is able to play more positions it will increase his value and offers a bigger window to find that best fit program for the next level.
Add to that, Jacob recognizes being a Dirtbag has offered him a chance to see the game at a level where his competitiveness has leveraged his skills to a higher standard. Playing against the best and experiencing high profile playing in environments all force a “sink or swim” demand he views as a positive force on his output.
Something else Ray has learned is that Dirtbag coaches are good and allow the best players to prosper, while everyone gets a chance to shine. He says he appreciates the fact those coaches he’s experienced with the Bags have kept it fun while also taking care of the business at hand on the field by guiding players.
Jacob Ray seems to have the two aspects of performance all coaches tell players to focus on well under control – that is effort and attitude. With his consistently positive approach to whatever is next, look for this Dirtbag to be raising his stock in the college recruiting game in a positive direction.