There have been plenty of players patrolling the outfield at Marshalltown High School the last few decades.
Maybe the best to do it, Alex Thompson, will have a whole new set of turf to marshal next spring.
The Bobcat senior will join the Kirkwood Community College baseball program following MHS' current playoff run.
T-R PHOTO BY TRAVIS HINES
Marshalltown High School senior Alex Thompson, seated center, signed his letter of intent on Friday at the MHS Diamond to continue his baseball career at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. With Thompson are his parents, Steve and Karen, and Bobcat head baseball coach Steve Hanson, standing.
"It just felt like home," said the Marshalltown center fielder. "The minute I was there I said, 'Wow, I could easily live here.'
"I love everything about it. I love the coach, everything just felt like home. It just fit."
Thompson is currently batting .348 and is second on the team with 26 stolen bases, but it's his prowess in the field that sets him apart from the multitude of outfielders that have passed through the program under head coach Steve Hanson.
"I don't know that we've had a better defensive outfielder than Alex Thompson," said Hanson, now in his 19th season at the helm of the Bobcats. "And that's a lot of outfielders who have had some wonderful credentials and have been great players, but he'll go get the ball and wants the ball and is very aggressive to the ball."
Baseball wasn't the only avenue to an athletic career in college for Thompson, who has starred for Ames the past four winters on its hockey team.
He had opportunities to play for the University of Pittsburgh and a number of juniors teams.
"When it came down to it, the sport, the school, the location, the price, everything came down to Kirkwood," said Thompson, an all-CIML Iowa Conference honorable mention selection as a junior.
"It was definitely a hard decision. Hockey was definitely my first love, but baseball was reality."
That's not to say lessons learned on the ice haven't translated to the diamond.
"That's a tough sport and he's carried over some of those same attitudinal things to the baseball field," Hanson said. "If you're a passive hockey player, you're going to be in some trouble, and the same is true here."
A passive approach has never been Thompson's style.
"His greatest skill, and the one that will help him at Kirkwood the most, is his competitiveness," Hanson noted. "He doesn't like to lose and he doesn't care what he has to do, whatever it is, he's all about the group."
At Kirkwood, which went 21-33 last season, he'll have a chance to matchup in Iowa Community College Athletic Conference play against current MHS teammate Bennett Mann, a Marshalltown Community College signee.
"That will be fun," smiled Thompson.
Thompson didn't step onto the field a finished product early in his career, according to Hanson.
"He was really raw as a young kid, but he always could run," Hanson said. "He has developed the technique of being a good outfielder, he's learned all of that and has adapted and absorbed it. Now, it's second nature to him.
"That's a credit to his work ethic because he was presented with the same information that every other outfielder that's ever gone through here was presented with, but he took it and utilized it and made himself a better player, a player good enough to go and play at the college level."
The Bobcats continue in Class 4A substate play with tonight's 7 p.m. semifinal at No. 3-ranked Southeast Polk.