MINFORD — Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis just knew something about Marshall University.
Something special so much so that the minute the Minford High School senior standout stepped on campus, he wanted to make Huntington his college baseball home.
“It just stuck out to me. I knew I wanted to go there,” he said.
In all actuality, Vogelsong-Lewis did just that back in mid-November, when he officially signed his national letter-of-intent to play for the Thundering Herd — as Marshall is indeed an NCAA Division I program and a member of Conference USA.
But because of Minford’s school days impacted by the coronavirus situation, it wasn’t until a week ago on Friday that Vogelsong-Lewis had an opportunity to have his official signing ceremony.
Flanked by his baseball brethren and coaches at Minford, as well as his parents Glenn and Traci Vogelsong-Lewis, Vogelsong-Lewis publicly announced his intentions inside the Falcons’ Nest — as he is one of 13 members of Marshall’s 2021 baseball recruiting class.
Vogelsong-Lewis, a five-foot and 11-inch outfielder, was recruited primarily by Marshall associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Joe Renner —although he was originally offered a visit by Thundering Herd head coach Jeff Waggoner himself.
Waggoner was hooked up with Vogelsong-Lewis via his summer travel team — the Huntington Hounds.
Waggoner was at one of Elijah’s games, and initially offered him a visit — before formally making a scholarship offer.
“I played summer ball for the Hounds, and I was just blessed with the opportunity to be around so many great players and playing against really good competition. A lot of college scouts are at those games. Coach Waggoner and I got to talking, and ultimately I knew when I stepped on the campus I wanted to go there,” said Vogelsong-Lewis.
While Division I of the NCAA is obviously the highest level of intercollegiate athletics, signing to play at THAT level is another animal altogether.
But the Herd is getting a tremendous Falcon AND Hound, who will play primarily centerfield for Marshall —his natural outfield position from high school and summer ball.
In fact, Vogelsong-Lewis —per Prep Baseball Report —is ranked as the 10th-best overall outfielder in the entire state of Ohio.
For those curious, that’s left, right AND centerfielders —as he also bats in the prime third spot in the regular Falcon lineup.
“The competition is going to be a lot better. You’re going from teams of one or two super-good players to teams full of all-stars. There are some really good guys,” said Vogelsong-Lewis. “I am excited to compete at such a high level and give it all I have. I would like to start from my freshman year on all four years, because everybody wants to play. But my biggest goals there are just to play and contribute to the team and be a team player. Do what I can to help us win.”
He has already done plenty of that in his first two years for the Falcons.
The Southern Ohio Conference Division II Player of the Year and first-team OHSBCA Division III all-Ohioan in 2019, Vogelsong-Lewis provides plenty of athleticism, experience, skill and speed to the Marshall program.
When Renner was asked in November about the new position players on the roster, he simply said in a blanket statement: “I feel good about the athleticism of the position players.”
Few have been better at Minford than Vogelsong-Lewis, who was a multi-year all-Ohio football quarterback including as a third-team Division V selection as a junior —and will likely be a two-time all-stater in Division III basketball following this current campaign.
But baseball is first and foremost Vogelsong-Lewis’ first love, and he has bled the Red of Minford for two full memorable seasons.
As a freshman, Minford made the state tournament in 2018, while returning to the regional level a year later —and finishing as the Region 11 runner-up.
“Those two years, I played with a great group of guys. We were loaded up and down with talent on the roster, one thru nine (in the batting order),” he said. “I was definitely blessed to play with those guys for two years.”
Vogelsong-Lewis, likely, would have been one of the top two returnees for the Falcons of 2020 —but that season never happened.
In response to the coronavirus threat at the time, and officially on April 20, the Ohio High School Athletic Association altogether cancelled last year’s spring events.
The current senior simply said he was glad he had one more Minford go-round.
“We were so upset not to have a season last year. Even those seniors, I feel so bad for them. I can’t imagine how bad that had to hurt them. I am just so glad I wasn’t a senior, because I know how bad it hurt me,” said Vogelsong-Lewis. “We were really looking forward to have another great season last year, but in the end, you have to let it go on and move on.”
And, that’s what Vogelsong-Lewis has done —preparing for Ohio high school baseball to return in 2021.
He said no season last year means more motivation to perform well this spring.
“I am excited to see what we have this year. I’m pretty motivated and just glad I have one more shot here,” he said. “There were a lot of goals set for last year that we didn’t get a chance to achieve, so that gives us one more shot.”
He also said he was relieved to have his college signing completed — prior to Opening Day.
“I am glad to have this signing done, but it wouldn’t change in the end how I play or how I treat the game,” said Vogelsong-Lewis. “I am blessed and glad that I have signed already, but no matter what goes on, I’m always going to give 110-percent out there.”
Although officially undecided upon a major, Vogelsong-Lewis’ leanings are towards either “Business” or “Sports Management”.
But one thing Vogelsong-Lewis did know for a while — he knew Marshall was so special that he wanted to call it his college baseball home.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to play Division I college baseball, and do it so close by,” he said. “It’s a blessing. I’m ready to meet and make a bond with the team and the coaches. The door has been opened, so I am ready to go play some good baseball.”
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved