By Bryant Billing
RUSSIA — Hunter Cohee impressed a lot of spectators during his four years as a starter at Russia. But of all the people and scouts he wowed — including many during Russia’s run to the Division IV state title game in 2017 — it was impressing an administrator at Russia that helped break open his college recruitment.
Cohee, the Shelby County Athletic League player of the year the last two years, signed to play at Urbana University on Tuesday during a ceremony at Russia’s Community Ball Diamond.
Cohee said the offer came late last spring and started with Russia principal Brian Hogan. Hogan graduated from Urbana is a friend of Urbana assistant coach Daulton Mosbarger. Mosbarger asked Hogan during the spring if Russia had any potential college players, and Cohee was suggested.
After Mosbarger saw Cohee’s stats, he suggested him to head coach Jake Oester.
“(Oester) came and saw one of my games at Houston when I pitched, and they ended up giving me an offer after the game,” Cohee said.
Urbana, a Division II university, was 11-36 last season. Oester is entering his third season as the program’s coach.
“I like it a lot,” Cohee said of Urbana’s campus. “I’m trying to bring some good energy there. I was kind of looking for a bigger campus for college but I thought it was perfect and really nice. I fit in really good there.”
Cohee is 6-foot-4 and had a 6-1 record on the mound this season for the Raiders with a 0.80 ERA. Cohee is a right hander, and his fastball has been clocked at 82 miles per hour.
“(Urbana’s) getting a competitor, for sure,” Russia coach Kevin Philpot said. “He loves to play, knows the game and has been successful. They’re going to get a ball player. A pitcher, a hitter, a kid who can play defense and can run the bases and knows all aspects of the game.”
Cohee said he expects to play infield as well for the Blue Knights. He batted .437 last season for Russia and had 30 RBIs. He played third base this summer for Sidney Post 217, which was coached by Mosbarger.
Russia finished 19-10 this season and advanced to the regionals for the second straight season and third time in four years. The Raiders advanced to district finals each of the last four years, and Philpot said Cohee was a big part of the success.
“He’s been a clutch ball player and a leader on and off the field,” Philpot said. “Off the field, he’s been one of the hardest workers. During the fall, in winter during basketball season, he’s still doing his workouts for baseball season. He’s putting the time into it. That started even before he was in high school. I think this was his goal, and the hard work has really paid off.”
Cohee said the squad had a ton of fun over the last four years and he has a ton of memories. He said nothing surpasses Russia’s 24-8 campaign in 2017, which included a Div. IV state runner-up finish.
“We were definitely a cinderella team to make it to that final four,” Cohee said. “We hadn’t been there in 42 years or something like that, so it was really nice to bring that back and kind of spark up the baseball program here.”