By Austin Bishop
The Choctaw Plaindealer
Cody McKee has a lot of numbers by his name. But it’s not his height, weight, or batting average that made the difference when Blue Mountain College head baseball coach Curt Fowler decided to offer the East Webster standout a scholarship.
“Just watching him and the way he handled himself and the way he handled adversity made me know he would be a perfect fit for us,” Fowler said. “He is a great defensive catcher and can swing the bat a little, but there is even more than that to him. He just never gives up on a play and never takes a play off.”
The 5-foot-8, 170-pound McKee hit .339 and drove in 15 runs for the Wolverines this past season, but East Webster head coach Wes Johnson said what he can do behind the plate alone makes him a college prospect.
“He’s just built for catcher,” Johnson said. “He’s stocky and has a great arm. He was a very good defensive second baseman for us, but we needed him behind the plate. He can flat throw it. He’s hard to steal on and doesn’t’ mind throwing behind the runners.”
Johnson said early on that McKee’s competitive nature actually hurt him a little until he matured and learned how to play under control.
“He is very passionate about the game and what he does,” Johnson said. “He really worked hard on all aspects of his game and has turned himself into a good baseball player and a real leader.
“The biggest thing about him is that he is going to work hard, you can count on that,” he said.
“I realized I needed to provide some senior leadership,” McKee said. “Early in the season it just kind of clicked for me and I began to understand what Coach Johnson was telling me.”
While he can play other positions, McKee says being behind the plate suits him and his personality best.
“When you are catching you have to be the quarterback and right in the middle of everything,” he said. “I am very active and like to have the game in front of me.”
Aggression is part of McKee’s game, something that was nurtured by his time on the football field at East Webster.
“I was a linebacker and I just loved it,” McKee said. “If I could find a way to play them both I probably would have, but baseball is where my future lies and I’m looking forward to it.”
When deciding where to go to school next year, McKee said something just clicked with him about Blue Mountain.
“It just seemed right for me,” he said. “I just knew that was the place I was supposed to be.”
Fowler said McKee will be one of four catchers on the roster for Blue Mountain this season, along with a senior, a junior college transfer and a fellow freshman. BMC is a four-year NAIA school that is moving to the Southern States Conference this year and will be competing against the likes of Belhaven, William Carey and Auburn-Montgomery.
“We like to call it the SEC of the NAIA,” Fowler said with a chuckle. “It’s the big leagues.”
Fowler said McKee’s skills were obvious, but it was the intangibles that sold him on the EW standout.
“You are looking for people who love the game and are willing to come to a smaller school and work hard to get better and to be a part of a team,” Fowler said. “We are looking for special guys and Cody is one of those.”