Like his storybook namesake, Casey Grayson carries a big bat.
But the Cougars are hoping this “Casey” doesn’t strike out.
A local product from Cy-Woods High School, Grayson received only one offer to play at the next level. It didn’t come from UH; it came from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas.
“I just wanted to continue playing and they gave me the opportunity to play,” Grayson said.
Playing first base at Navarro, Grayson found success. The 6-foot, 225-pounder was an integral part of the team’s 2011 junior college championship run.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” Grayson said. “I can’t even put it into words. Going from playing in front of 30 people at most to playing in front of 16-to-7,000 people was a completely different experience.”
After the team’s championship season, the Cougars’ coaching staff looked to Navarro to help replenish their roster.
Along with Grayson, the coaches also plucked pitcher Austin Pruitt and infielder Wes Theiss from the Bulldogs.
Grayson said he chose to come to UH after his visit because it was close to home and it was exactly what he was looking for.
“You can’t beat coming and playing where all of your friends and family can come watch,” Grayson said. “My parents went to almost every game. Their shortest drive, I think, was three hours to Navarro. Everything else was four or five hours. So getting them to be able to come to a game that’s only 30 minutes away is great.”
Head coach Todd Whitting said he is excited to have Grayson on the team. He said Grayson will help them with both offense and defense.
“He, to me, was one of the premier junior college players in the country last year,” Whitting said.
“He gives us a left-handed bat and he’s tremendous around the bag. He also has some power and he will help protect Chase Jensen in the middle a little bit.”
Grayson said he hopes to deliver by being a force in the lineup and driving in some runs, but he believes his glove will be the key.
“I’d like to think that I’m a good hitter, but I really take pride at my defensive work over at first,” Grayson said.
“I’ll help over at first base and stop some people from making some errors.”
Like most players a few days away from Opening Day, Grayson is looking forward to only one thing.
“I’m just looking forward to playing,” Grayson said. “I’m ready to get the season underway and hopefully get some victories.”