Sports

Drew Vettleson makes it official: Oregon State University

Central Kitsap senior Drew Vettleson signed a letter of intent Monday to play baseball at Oregon State University next spring. The highly touted outfielder/pitcher boasts a .408 career batting average and a 2.10 ERA.  The two-sport athlete is ambidextrous. - Wesley Remmer/staff photos
Central Kitsap senior Drew Vettleson signed a letter of intent Monday to play baseball at Oregon State University next spring. The highly touted outfielder/pitcher boasts a .408 career batting average and a 2.10 ERA. The two-sport athlete is ambidextrous.
— image credit: Wesley Remmer/staff photos

Drew Vettleson, an ambidextrous slugger with a grin to match his swing, still remembers the day he received the letter.

It was summer of 2007, between the Central Kitsap student’s freshman and sophomore year, and he was at his grandmother’s house, sharing laughs and time next to a woman with whom he was very close.

“My mom came walking through the door and she had a big smile on her face,” Vettleson said, remembering his mother Kim carrying an envelope. “It was from Oregon State, the national champion, and they were showing interest in me. My heart stopped.”

It was a defining day for Vettleson, who signed a letter of intent Monday to play baseball next season at Oregon State University.

Not only did that moment pave the way for a sky-is-the-limit baseball future, but he shared it with his grandmother, who died a year later.

“I’m just glad she was able to experience that with me, opening that first letter,” the 18-year-old said.

The two-sport athlete talks family as much as ball.

The son of Jerry and Kim, Vettleson is an only child who draws support from his parents and 13 cousins, some of whom live in and around Central Kitsap and were on-hand Monday for a signing ceremony that included cake, balloons, friends and coaches.

“You can’t share great experiences without having your friends and family around,” said Vettleson, who will play outfield and likely will pitch at OSU. “My family, we don’t have controversy. We’re there for each other.”

The decision to sign with the Beavers was easy.

Vettleson, who also was in contact with the University of Oregon, University of Washington and Washington State University, wanted to stay close to home and play for a contender.

His girlfriend, Central Kitsap senior Hannah Anderson, has signed to play soccer for the Beavers.

“Their coaches were so personal and into your life,” Vettleson said of visiting OSU. “The atmosphere there was just great, the program is definitely on the rise. I want to go somewhere where we can win and I can have fun.”

Coached by Pat Casey, OSU won consecutive national championships in 2006 and 2007, both times defeating the University of North Carolina in the College World Series. Vettleson, the 2009 Gatorade Washington Baseball Player of the Year, is among a 12-player signing class for OSU’s 2011 season.

He is one of four or five “utility guys” — position players/pitchers — who Casey brought in to give the program versatility.

“If you look at our class, you have some players who are very talented in more than one area,” Casey said in a statement released by OSU Monday. “We’re looking to fill some positions where we can use a position-type guy, and we’ve signed some kids who are capable of doing that,”

Listed as Baseball America’s No. 25 prospect for the 2010 First-Year Player Major League Baseball Draft, Vettleson is certain to play outfield but could also take the mound.

Clocked over the summer in the low-90s as a right-hander and mid-to-upper-80s as a lefty, he continues to work on his mechanics and accuracy.

Central Kitsap coach Bill Baxter will use Vettleson, who owns a 2.10 career ERA and 6-3 record to go with 64 strikeouts in 57 innings, as the Cougars’ No. 1 pitcher this spring.

“Pitching-wise, he just needs to work on throwing strikes a little bit more,” Baxter said. “That’s going to come with more pitching and more coaching.”

CK lost seven of nine starters from a 2009 team that reached the Class 4A state tournament, meaning Vettleson’s role will be bigger than ever. He is expected to hit No. 3 or 4 — from the left side — but he’ll also see intentional walks.

Recognized for lightening-quick wrists and the ability to hit to the opposite field, Vettleson has compiled a .408 career batting average to go with 10 home runs, 39 RBI and seven doubles.

He also has been rated the No. 1 player in the state of Washington by Baseball Northwest.

“We’re not going to be able to hide him,” Baxter said. “He’s the complete package.”

“I want to bring leadership, and I want to be able to bring all the guys together as a team and have that chemistry and be together,” Vettleson added. “When you’re having fun with the other guys around you, it’s just a lot easier to play the game.”

With basketball season here and baseball to follow, the self-proclaimed “mellow and laid-back” two-sport star will end his storied career the same way he started it.

“If you walk around me, you’re going to see a smile,” he said, grinning.

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