Prep baseball: Greenwood 12-1 over Warren East

Greenwood’s Cade Thornton slides into second base as Warren East’s Sheldon Martin applies the tag April 17, 2019, during Greenwood’s 12-1 win at Warren East High School.

Greenwood’s Cade Thornton kept busy during the summer months.

After the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out his junior baseball season for the Gators, Thornton kept working to improve and sharpen his skills with an eye toward playing at the collegiate level.

On Thursday, Thornton made that goal a reality during a ceremony at The Diamond after signing his national letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Evansville.

“I’ve worn out Basil Griffin (Park’s) batting cages,” Thornton said. “I’ve tried to get in work anywhere I can, anytime I can. So it kind of made everybody think outside the box a little bit, but we made things work and tried to get as much development as possible in.”

That development encountered a hitch when the Kentucky High School Athletic Association announced in April that spring sports were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Thornton still managed to put in time on the diamond, and not just the batting cages at Basil Griffin. Thornton played during the summer for a couple months in showcase tournaments with 5 Star National out of the Nashville area, logging about 30 games spread out over a half-dozen or so weekends.

The summer season is where Thornton originally made contact with the Evansville coaching staff.

“They just saw me two summers ago and they showed a lot of interest in me,” Thornton said. “I thought they were a great fit for me. The coaches are great people, they’ve got a new field – I think it’s going to be a really good experience for me.”

The Purple Aces, members of the NCAA Division 1 Missouri Valley Conference, finished 5-11 last year in a season truncated due to COVID-19. In 2019, Evansville won 24 games under head coach Wes Carroll.

Thornton hopes to make a quick impact with the Purple Aces next season.

“They want me to be in the outfield, and possibly center field, so I’m really excited about that – maybe earning a spot quick,” Thornton said. “That’d be awesome.”

Thornton earned a starting spot as a sophomore for an upperclassmen-laden Greenwood squad in 2019 that finished 20-11 overall and 7-5 in District 14 play. That team ended its season with a loss to South Warren in the district tournament, but looked primed for a breakthrough with plenty of experience returning last year.

As a sophomore, Thornton hit .307 with six doubles, two triples and stole nine bases for the Gators. He drove in nine runs.

Thornton will be counted on to provide veteran leadership for Greenwood this season and he’s optimistic about the Gators’ chances for a postseason run.

“I’m really hoping that our team can go to region and possibly a run for state,” Thornton said. “I think we have a really good chance this year, so we’re just going to try to do the best we can and put ourselves in the best position to win.”{&end}

– Follow sports editor Jeff Nations on Twitter @Jeff_NationsBG or visit bgdailynews.com.

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