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COLLEGE BASEBALL: ATHENS' KRAFT STAYS CLOSE TO HOME; SIGNS TO PLAY AT ELMIRA COLLEGE (4 PHOTOS) (2023-06-02)

By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
ATHENS - Athens senior Luke Kraft felt at home on his visits to Elmira College. And, it’s close to home, so on Wednesday, Kraft signed a National Letter-of-Intent during a brief ceremony in the high school gym to play baseball for the Soaring Eagles.

"When I went on the tour there, it’s just felt like that was the place for me to be," said Kraft.

"More importantly, it’s close to home, and all of my family can come and watch," he noted. "My family has been watching me play since I was a little kid. It will be a lot easier for them."

Another bonus for Kraft is that longtime friend, teammate, and classmate Cam Sullivan will also be attending Elmira College to play baseball.

"I think it’s great," said Kraft. "Cam and I have been playing together since junior high.

"He always came in to (pitch) in games after I started them," added Kraft. "It feels good to have him with me and continue on in this journey together."

Kraft, who was also an outstanding third baseman for the Wildcats, will be a pitcher at Elmira College.

"It’s going to be easier, but tougher at the same time," he said. "I’m going to be able to rest in between my pitching appearances, but it’s going to suck watching the games and not being able to play in them.

"It’s just something I’ll have to adjust to," Kraft added.

Kraft knows he’s going to be playing at a different level.

"I just have to stay in games and battle — everyone is going to be good," he said. "My defense is going to be even better behind me, so I just have to battle."

Athens baseball coach Charlie Havens has little doubt Kraft will succeed at the next level.

"Luke works hard, and he’s gotten better every year he’s played," said Havens. "He puts a lot of time in, and has a great work ethic.

"He was unbelievable on the mound this year," Havens added.

More importantly, said Havens, Elmira College is getting "a great kid."

"Elmira is lucky to get Luke," he said. "He has a very good personality — never gets too high, never gets too low, and he’s able to handle adversity.

"He’s just a great kid, and a great teammate," added Havens.

Havens, who is also an Elmira College grad, is excited to see Kraft and Sullivan at his alma mater.

I think it’s cool they’re going together — Elmira is getting two really great kids," said Havens. "They really can’t get two better guys than those two.

"I know I’m going to miss them, but to be able to go and watch them play will be great," noted Havens. "And, they play in the same league as (St. John Fisher), so we’ll be able to watch them play against (Lucas) Horton. It’s going to be fun to be on the other end of it."

Kraft will major in Accounting.

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IN PHOTO 1: Athens senior Luke Kraft. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.

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