HARTVILLE  After anchoring the Lake Center Christian rotation the past two seasons, right hander James Kontur has earned the chance to continue his baseball career at the college level.

Kontur, a senior pitcher, was one of eight players to commit to Malone University during the sport’s early recruiting period. Koster was one of just two Stark County players among the group and his choice came after a recruiting process that included two other local schools. With a 19-7 career record, including an 8-1 record and 0.23 ERA as a junior last season, Kontur helped LCC make a push for the Portage Trail Conference title in its first season in the league.

“There were a few schools that were in the mix, not too many, so it was nice to have it be a pretty narrow list,” Kontur said. “I appreciated that it kept my choice simple. I talked a lot to Walsh and had some short conversations with the Kent State coach, but we never had any real, serious contact.”

Other schools from outside the area also showed interest in having Kontur attend one of their prospect camps, but spending the money to travel and attend camp for an entire weekend made those schools less appealing options.

Malone also had a strong appeal because of Kontur's educational background growing up.

“I like the size of the school and I was home school originally and then I went to a small, private school, so I’m used to the space and I like getting to know people, so I liked how small (Malone) was,” Kontur said.

Lake Center Christian athletic director and head baseball coach Shane Byler has worked with Kontur during his entire high school career and believes that the biggest key to the pitcher’s success, aside from his natural talents on the mound, is the way Kontur approaches the game.

“The biggest thing that comes to mind is the fact that as team to be successful, your best player has to be one of hardest workers and that's certainly James,” Byler said. “He had a lot of success for us early on and he has continued to work hard and get better.”

Having a player earn a spot on a college roster also benefits the program, Byler noted, because it adds credibility to the level of play the Tigers have established. For Kontur, having the decision made prior to the season is a relief, as he can now simply enjoy the season and not feel like he has to pitch well to impress college coaches or put any extra pressure on himself not to have a bad start.

He plans to start the pursuit of a law degree at Malone, with an eye on becoming a judge some day, but isn’t sure yet whether he will take the pre-law or liberal arts track to that career. 

Either way, he’ll have the opportunity to do so while playing baseball for four more years and enjoying the experience of being a student-athlete at a university not far from home. 

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or andy.harris@thesuburbanite.com.
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