New Albany pitcher Josh Rogers spent the winter throwing a basketball through a hoop. Now the senior left-hander, who hits 93 mph on the radar gun, is preparing to throw strikes as the ace for the Bulldogs.
He went 8-1 with a 0.77 ERA last season, and he is tied for the school record with 24 career wins. Rogers, a fan of Los Angeles Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson and the New York Yankees, has signed with the University of Louisville.
How has your role with the team changed this year?
I’ve got a different role, more of a leadership role. I’m really excited about that. I’ve not been a vocal leader. Now I’m trying to take over and be that guy. We have a lot of talented guys on the team this year, so it should be a lot of fun.
New Albany is ranked No. 8 in the preseason Class 4-A poll, but the Hoosier Hills Conference is loaded with talent this year. How tough will winning that, and the sectional, be at the end of the season?
It’s got to be, from top to bottom, one of the top conferences in the state. I think there are nine or 10 Division I signees and even more college baseball players. In my opinion, if you ask me, it’s the best.
What was the deciding factor in signing with Louisville?
The coaching staff really did it for me. They run a great program, a winning program. They really made me feel comfortable, and it’s somewhere I just fit. I’ve been a Louisville Cardinal fan since I was born, so it just worked out great and I was fortunate enough to have them offer me a scholarship.
What is your strength as a pitcher?
My strength is commanding three pitches, the ability to throw strikes. I can go to any pitch in any count. My change-up was a big offseason emphasis, and I worked on that a lot. Hopefully it will be an effective pitch for me.
How did playing high school basketball as a senior help prepare you for the baseball season?
Playing high school basketball for a school like New Albany and a coach like Coach (Jim) Shannon was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It was so much fun, and I made so many memories. And it put me in physical shape. I lost about 15 pounds. And it made me work, learn how to be a different type of player. I took a back seat to the other guys, and that allowed me to see sports from another perspective.
What do you enjoy away from sports?
I like to head over to Churchill Downs. It’s a family thing that I do with my dad and grandfather. I like a lot of the trainers over there. I’ve got the forms down, and I have a good time over there. And I like to go to the golf course.
Which horse is your Kentucky Derby favorite?
I think it’s got to be Shanghai Bobby.
Who is your role model?
It’s my dad, for sure. I look up to him every day. It’s the way he handles situations, the way he handles people. He’s a really good guy.
What life skill have you learned from playing high school sports?
It’s the people skills that come with it. It’s the team aspect. Nothing you do in life is individual-based. It puts it in perspective, how you relate and how you hold a conversation. It’s being comfortable with people and coaches.
JOSH ROGERS UP CLOSE
* School: New Albany
* Year: Senior
* Family: Parents Bobby and Eldora; sister Hayley (17), brother Chase (8)
* Student/athlete: Josh also played basketball for the Bulldogs. He has signed to pitch for the University of Louisville.
* Coach Chris McIntyre: “Obviously, Josh gets a lot of attention because of his ability and the success he has had. But he would be a great person to have on any team because of his attitude. He is a team-first guy. He is more excited to see his teammates do well than he is for himself.”
— Justin Sokeland