Boonville senior Kole Ficken had several reasons for signing with the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.
During a signing last Thursday in the media center at Boonville High School, Ficken said he chose UCM for the fact that they are always able to compete and finish well. He also liked the fact of the smaller atmosphere for the degree he is pursuing and being fairly close to home.
“They really showed a high interest in me and made me feel wanted,” Ficken said of UCM. “They also gave me an offer that was the best for me and my family.”
A three-year starter for the Pirates, Ficken has definitely fulfilled his end of the bargain as one of the top hitters on the team the last two seasons.
Boonville Pirates baseball coach Fred Smith said Ficken is a winner.
“I am just very proud of Kole obviously knowing that he will play at the next level and get to go to college,” Smith said. “Not only is UCM a good college but also a fantastic baseball program. It speaks volumes of the kind of dedication that he’s put in and the kind of player he’s become and the student athlete that he is. I am just very happy for him today.”
With one season left to play, Ficken may be hard-pressed to best last year’s stats after hitting .439 with 36 hits in 82 at-bats with 21 singles, nine doubles, one triple, five home runs and 29 RBIs. Ficken also led the team in runs scored with 31 and finished with an on-base percentage of .521 and a slugging percentage of .756.
Smith said Ficken has always hit the ball really well. “I think he has gotten stronger and his agilities and footwork have improved a great deal,” Smith said. “I definitely think he has come a long way since his freshmen year. He has turned into that five tool kid that we knew he would become. We are talking three-time all-conference, three-time all-district and two-time all-state going into his senior year. We also finished second in state two years ago. All of the banners on the wall he is a big part of that. He just shows up, always hits in the No. 3 or 4 holes, plays whatever position you ask him to play and just works his tail off and leads by example.”
As for short term and long term goals at UCM, Ficken said his short-term goals are to start as a freshman and get as much playing time as possible. As for his long-term goals, Ficken said he wants to continue to improve and play Major League Baseball.
In addition to UCM, Ficken said he was also being looked at by the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri State University in Springfield, Dartmouth, Illinois State and Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas.
Smith said UCM is interested in Ficken at playing either second or third base in college.
“He can play anywhere on the infield,” Smith said. “However I am not ruling out that he could end up being a shortstop.”
Whether its second base, third base or shortstop in college, Ficken said he still needs to improve on his defense to play at the next level.
As for the highlight thus far in his career at Boonville, Ficken said as a team and individual it was a wonderful feeling making it to the Final Four and hopes to do it again as a senior.
“I also got the chance to play for the Royals scout team my junior year, where we made it to the top four teams out of 250 teams in the nation which was a huge surprise,” Ficken said. “I was also able to have a big hit in the game that pushed us to the Final Four of this tournament when we were in extra innings, which was a great feeling. But our entire team had big moments like this that helped us get there that made this so special.”
Although Ficken has played baseball since he was five, he said Fred Smith and Neb Brown have been the biggest influence on him in baseball because of their knowledge and love of the game and the instruction they have given him over the years.