POTTSBORO — There are similarities in the careers of Coby Langford and Hayden Kent as their time as Pottsboro baseball standouts is coming to an end.
They have been among the best players for the Cardinals and earned all-state accolades. They have excelled athletically off the diamond. And now their roads will diverge in different directions — one east and one north — as they signed their letters of intent to play at the next level.
Langford is headed to Wallace Dothan College while Kent is going to Webster University.
Picking Webster was something of an easy decision for Kent. His older brother, Kyler, is a junior and the Gorloks starting first baseman.
“He’s always told me to do what I wanted to. I wanted to go to a place where the coaches would see me as a good fit. Great coaches, great program,” he said. “I can’t wait to get up there.”
As a sophomore Kyler led the team with a .428 average, six home runs and 46 RBI and produced a school-record 83 hits as the team made the Division III Central Region tourney.
Webster, which is located in St. Louis, is 29-10 this season, ranked No. 19 in the country and 18-4 in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to win its division going into the conference tournament this week, the 13th straight season Webster has won or shared the regular season title.
The program has won at least 28 games every year since 2007, made the NCAA Tournament all but two seasons since 2005 and reached the World Series three times, most recently in 2015.
They are looking at Kent for somewhere on the infield, perhaps second or third base. He moved to shortstop this season from first base, where he was a first-team all-state pick and the 9-3A Offensive Player of the Year.
“This is my fourth different position in four years so it doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “Webster was the place for baseball and I couldn’t turn it down.”
While getting ready for the Cardinals’ area round series this week, Kent is also part of the defending Class 3A state champion golf team which will go for a second straight title in two weeks. This is the third straight season they have made it to the state tourney.
“Springs are always stressful planning it out,” said Kent, who was also an all-district selection in football. “If I have a bad day in golf I can turn to baseball and if I have a bad day at baseball then I can go to golf.”
Langford’s baseball career almost never made it to the high school level. As an eighth grader he broke his right elbow during a rundown to the point where continuing the sport wasn’t going to be an option.
“Doctor’s said I wouldn’t be able to play again,” Langford said. “I wasn’t going to let that stop me.”
A year later he was on the varsity and been contributing ever since after learning the ropes to now getting the next group of Cardinals ready to play their roles. Last spring he was a second-team all-state selection and the Pitcher of the Year in District 9-3A.
“They put their work ethic in me and showed me how to do it and that’s something I can take to college,” Langford said.
He has also been an all-district selection in football.
Wallace Dothan is a junior college program in Alabama that is led by former big-league catcher Mackey Sasser. It was the Alabama Community College Conference champ in 2017 and advanced to the Junior College World Series for the first time.
Under Sasser the team has won more than 700 games in his 22 seasons and six conference titles, including this season as the Govs are currently 39-7 and ranked sixth in the country. They have been as high as third in the national poll.
“Distance kinda hurts. I was born here and love it here but it’s an opportunity I can’t turn down. I felt JUCO was the right decision. It’s a great place to get connections — they are sending like nine guys to the SEC,” said Langford, who had been committed to the University of New Mexico. “Pitching’s the main deal. They’re going to try and let me do both. The fall is where you earn your spot. They’re not rebuilding; they’re reloading and that’s what we do in Pottsboro.”