Impact Baseball hit the road this Monday morning to Jamestown, North Carolina the home of Matt Horkey and The Ragsdale High School Tigers. Horkey is very excited about his junior campaign; he has high hopes and expectations for himself and Ragsdale this spring season. The Tigers have always had good ball clubs and this year should be no different.
Name: Matt Horkey
High School: Ragsdale
College Commitment: Undecided
How was your off-season? What have you been doing to get ready for another exciting year at Ragsdale?
I thought this off-season was the most productive one I've ever had. Eating better and going to the gym four to five times a week has me in great shape! I specifically focused on making my legs, shoulders and core stronger. I definitely feel lighter on my feet for this upcoming season. I am also more mentally prepared for this upcoming season now that I have more experience under my belt.
What's your take on this year Ragsdale club?
We will definitely be competitive in our conference. We only lost three seniors and we were pretty young last year. Now we are another year stronger, bigger and more experienced. If we all work hard and stay focused, the talent we have will carry us into the state playoffs. I am very excited about this season!
What are the strengths of this ball club?
We have good depth on the mound; we only lost one pitcher from last year and have many arms to help us compete. At the plate, our team can put the ball in play throughout the lineup. We also have great team speed which should make us more dangerous on the basepaths and in the field.
Being a strike throwing left hander, what's your mind set when toeing up the rubber for the day?
Before each game, I think about the lineup I'm going to face and how to approach each batter. On the mound, I try to get in a groove early and set a tone. I always look to get that first pitch strike and get ahead in the count. I go out there with confidence thinking that I am going to beat the batter every time and I'm going to win the battle.
I have always wanted to ask you this. You pitch left handed and hit right handed. How did that happen?
I honestly remember the first day my dad threw whiffle balls to me in the front yard when I was a kid. Being left-handed, my Dad figured I would hit left-handed too. But I always felt most comfortable with my right hand on top so we tried hitting from the right side and it went from there.
Most guys that pitch are just pitchers, but you are pretty good with the stick to. What's your secret?
I have always felt confident at the plate. I never had the mindset of a "pitcher only". I've always liked to hit and never thought to abandon that skill.
When I think of Ragsdale baseball I think of DeSean Anderson, Trevor Mullins, Nick McBride. What was it like coming to the ball park at a young age watching those guys?
I thought those guys were awesome! I always wanted to play at their level, I look up to them. After middle school games I would walk over to catch the Ragsdale varsity game with teammates. Seeing all the attention they got on and off the field really motivated me to work hard to reach my own potential.
Coach Donnie Maness (Ragsdale Head Coach) and Coach Chris Maness (Ragsdale Pitching Coach) are two of the best in the business when it comes to High School baseball. Tell me what it's like to learn from those two, and what they both bring to the table from a players perspective?
There is no one more dedicated to their baseball program than my coaches. No matter what time of year it is, they are always there for you to talk the game, or to meet you at the field for some extra work (except during "dead" times of course!). Coach Donnie Maness is an expert at teaching the game. He has a passion for baseball and for the Ragsdale community! Coach Chris Maness has helped me tweak my pitching over the years and has given me valuable advice. They both bring a lot of enthusiasm to the game.
You have a brother (Ben) who is a year younger than you, how is it having him as a teammate? Growing up were things competitive with you two?
Ben is not just my brother; he is one of my best friends. It is really cool having him on the same team. I am very lucky to have a brother who loves baseball as much as I do. We can always go out and throw or go to the cages together. Yeah, we were pretty competitive growing up and we still are today. But I like to show him whose boss! The next two seasons at Ragsdale are going to be very special having Ben in the lineup and in the field with me.
I am going to name some names below, tell me one word that what comes to mind when you hear them:
Matt Davis: Heat
Whitman Barnes: Crafty
Chandler Jenkins: Base Hit
Gabe Tippett: Beast
Hayden Manuel: Smooth
Travis Holden: Dedicated
Matt Vernon: Homerun
Do you have any superstitions before a game?
I always step over the baseline with my left foot first.
Who were your sports hero growing up?
I've always loved the Detroit Tigers and Magglio Ordonez he always seemed to make the clutch hits in big games. Being an outfielder like me at the time, he was my favorite player. Today, I would say Justin Verlander is a hero of mine. He has the best stuff in the game and has swagger like no other pitcher. He is also a very respectable guy off the field.
If you could change one rule in the game of baseball what would it be?
I would probably change the designator hitter (DH) rule in the American League. It seems unfair in the World Series when the American League's pitchers are less experienced at the plate.
Best advice ever given from anyone?
Don't take your God-given gifts for granted. Everyone is blessed with talents and skills and the best way to serve God is to reach your potential.
Impact Baseball would like to thank Matt Horkey for his "Under The Gun" interview. We would like to wish him and the Tigers the best of luck this spring..
More to come here from Impact Baseball later today!!