Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

February 14, 2014

Ashland's Cox makes turn to St. Francis

ASHLAND — Evan Cox played a major part in building Ashland Blazer’s boys golf program into something special.

He wants to do the same at the next level.

Cox, a senior, will continue his career at the University of St. Francis, located in Fort Wayne, Ind.

First-year Cougars golf coach Tim Alexander made the five-hour trip for Wednesday’s signing, which was attended by several of Cox’s family members, friends, coaches and school officials.

On more than one occasion, Alexander said he felt “very fortunate” to successfully recruit a golfer and person of Cox’s caliber to the NAIA school.      

“In my opinion, Evan was under-recruited,” Anderson said. “He’s a high-quality kid from a great family.”

Mitch Hall coached Cox on the high school team for the first time this season, but has been around him since he was a seventh-grader.

“I’ve been amazed at his natural talent and swing,” said Hall, who was named the Region 12 Coach of the Year by the Kentucky Golf Coaches Association. “Listening to Evan, he really thinks through shots. He’s extremely competitive, a diamond.”

Beginning his freshman year, Cox helped Ashland win three consecutive regional championships. He earned All-State honors as a junior in 2012 after ranking sixth on the state points list. The regional tournament medalist was also selected All-Area Player of the Year.

Ashland finished sixth at the State Tournament in 2011 and placed 12th in 2012.

Though happy to help the Tomcats make it back to Bowling Green last fall — as region runner-up — Cox’s play fell short of his expectations.

“I know he struggled a little bit his senior year,” said Anderson, adding that some college coaches may also have backed off because Cox continues to play high school baseball. “I think Evan has kind of got a chip on his shoulder to prove people wrong that passed on him.”

But not Saint Francis, a school of about 2,300 students that Cox contacted during the recruiting process.

“They are getting a player,” said Bob Blankenship, Ashland’s golf coach through Cox’s junior season. “I know Evan’s senior year didn’t go like he wanted it to, but his junior year was phenomenal. He has all the ability. It’s a matter of putting it back into place.”

Cox also considered Virginia Wesleyan, Pikeville and Western Kentucky (walk-on offer), but a trip with his father to Fort Wayne in early January made the decision much easier.

“Coach Alexander was very welcoming, everything was nice,” said Cox, who maintains a 3.75 grade point average and plans to study business. “I liked that it was small.”

Another big incentive was the opportunity to contribute as a college golfer right away.

“I feel like I can start playing there and make an impact,” Cox said.

He can’t wait to join three other incoming freshmen in what Anderson calls probably the best recruiting class in the progam’s history.

“I’ve talked to the other guys,” Cox said. “It’s going to be a team effort. We all want the same thing, a conference championship.”

The Cougars compete in the 10-team Crossroads League, consisting of eight Indiana schools and one each from Ohio and Michigan.

Alexander, an assistant golf pro for 10 years, didn’t start at Saint Francis until three weeks before the start of the 2013-14 season. He’s already making a difference with the men’s and women’s teams.

“Our men’s stroke average dropped five shots since I took the job,” Alexander said. “It’s 15 for the women from a year ago.” Alexander said.

Cox said Ashland baseball coach Jeff Wilcox was happy about the timing of his signing because it won’t be a burden for the senior this spring.

Cox pitches and plays shortstop for the Tomcats, who won region titles each of the past two years.

ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at rstanley@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2671.

Text Only
Local Sports
  • Joey Stamper bb.jpg Tigers, Cougars set for All 'A' sectional showdown

    Entering the season, Paintsville was going on five years without an All “A” Classic region baseball title. Morgan County hadn’t won one ever.
    Both teams changed that earlier this month, and both coaches characterized that among their programs’ top recent accomplishments entering their state sectional game Thursday at 6 p.m. in West Liberty.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • PREP ROUNDUP: Paintsville wins ninth straight

    Paintsville earned a pair of wins in the Pikeville Panther Classic on Saturday to run its record to 15-3, good for the highest winning percentage in the 15th Region.

    April 20, 2014

  • 0420chattin0397.jpg Pole vaulters conquer wind in Chattin

    For obvious reasons, pole vaulting records and windy conditions don’t go together.
    Raceland’s Connor Messer and Fairview’s Morgan McIntyre raised the bar anyway at Saturday’s Ernie Chattin Memorial Invitational.
    Despite a windy challenge — especially for Messer — on the hilltop at Ashland Athletic Complex, both athletes set new pole vault marks for the 11-year-old meet and received Outstanding Performance awards.

    April 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • 0415eastSB0170 copy.jpg Stock soaring for East eighth-grader Fouts

    With a name like Montana, you just have to go big.
    Six-foot eighth-grader Montana Fouts isn't a big talker, but when it comes to the business of softball, her skills convey a loud and clear message.
    The East Carter pitcher is making herself a can't-pass-up commodity with her flawless throwing form and sizzling speed.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lewis snaps 4-game skid, beats Ashland, 2-0

    Question: What four-game Lewis County losing streak?

    Answer: the one the Lions snapped Saturday by knocking off visiting Ashland, 2-0, in the third annual Lewis County Autism Awareness game.

    April 20, 2014

  • HIGH SCHOOL ROUNDUP: Hensley fires 2nd no-no in 2 days, Kittens split

    Ashland junior Megan Hensley no-hit Portsmouth West on Saturday, one day after dealing a perfect game, as the Kittens beat the Lady Senators 16-0 in five innings at the Valley of Thunder at Symmes Valley.

    April 19, 2014

  • west.JPG Streak snapped: Comets end 40-game losing streak to Raiders

    Nineteen years and 40 games between East Carter and West Carter have passed since the Comets have beaten the Raiders.
    Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” was the No. 1 song the last time West got a win over East.
    The visiting Comets ended almost 20 years of futility against the Raiders in dominating fashion on Friday night, defeating East Carter, 8-0.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Williams steps down as Lady Vikings coach

    Jen Williams did not make this decision lightly.

    April 19, 2014

  • HIGH SCHOOL ROUNDUP: Hensley spins perfect game

    Ashland’s Megan Hensley fired a perfect game and drove in the only runs of the game with a two-run homer as the Kittens topped Upper Arlington (Ohio) 2-0 in the Valley of Thunder at Symmes Valley on Friday night.

    April 19, 2014

  • 0418ashlandBB0268.jpg One-run fun: Ashland on smiling side of close game vs. East

    After opening the season with a 2-1 victory, Ashland has had a hard time cracking the close game code.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo