Dodge City Community College pitcher Ross Vance spent this past summer and fall getting ready to prove his arm has healed completely from Tommy John surgery.
The southpaw's work ethic after the surgery got him on the Conqs' squad for the spring semester, but the Texas native had eyes on him that he didn't know about and has signed a letter of intent to continue his collegiate career for the West Virginia Mountaineers.
"I'm just happy to be going somewhere," Vance said. "I had a few D-2s and almost everyone who had seen me had contacted me, but West Virginia was the first D-1 that came to the table. I saw it and I jumped on it.
"I want to go to a school with a strong alumni and even if they're not playing sports, they are having a good time. I want to have a lot of camaraderie out there."
Vance had the surgery during his 2011 season with Paris (Texas) Junior College and admits he's been waiting to get back on the mound in the spring and show the Conqs and the Mountaineers they made a good choice in his abilities.
"I've been waiting very impatiently," Vance said. "I got the chance to throw this summer and fall, but I'm ready to tear it up next spring."
Vance's throwing and work caught the eye of Dodge City baseball head coach Phil Stephenson, who picked up the southpaw during the summer.
"We were willing to take a chance with the guy who still had quite a bit to prove," Stephenson said. "I think he had a good fall. He tried to make some adjustments and some changes.
"I think there is still more velocity in his fastball as he gets stronger in his recovery phase. We expect big things of him and he's going to be in the mix of us winning a lot of weekend (Jayhawk Conference) games."
Stephenson said he's glad Vance has signed, but the early signing could be a double-edged sword when it comes to the upcoming season.
"It does take away the distraction, but it could work to a guy thinking 'I've got mine, I don't have to do anything' or 'I need to show that I'm worthy of this,'" Stephenson said. "I think from this guy I think this is what you're going to see (that he wants to show his worth), especially a guy who been out a full year and a half wanting to prove everything that he can prove.
"He wants to get off to a great start, but he wants to put up good numbers because he's wanting to show West Virginia they made a good choice, and also wanting to do a good job for us as well."