How this Washington baseball star grew into an elite talent and a Bradley recruit
WASHINGTON — Easton Harris has had a passion for baseball since childhood, and his love for the game has only grown more through the years.
The Washington senior shortstop and pitcher — and reigning Journal Star Player of the Year — has had a remarkable season for the Panthers (25-5, 12-0), which finished fourth statewide last season in Class 3A. Harris has a .417 batting average with 36 hits, 32 RBIs, 40 runs, eight doubles, six triples and six home runs. On the mound, he is 4-0 with an 0.32 ERA.
Harris last summer committed to Parkland College in Champaign, but recently signed with Bradley — where he will join his best friend and current teammate Gus Lucas. Lucas, a senior outfielder/pitcher, has also put together quite the season with a .447 average, 39 hits, 23 RBIs, 30 runs, 11 doubles and four triples, while sitting at 8-1 on the hill with a 1.48 ERA.
'Every kid had a Bradley shirt':BU-bound pitcher part of deep Washington baseball team
“Being a baseball player has run in my family,” said Harris. “My dad played baseball for as long as he could walk. He was always my mentor and little league coach. He taught me how to throw a curveball at 9 years old.”
Easton’s father, Scott and mother, Shae Harris each attended Illinois Valley Central, where they played baseball and softball. Chillicothe, a small town, known for its success on the diamonds.
“Growing up in a house like that really impacted me. I would walk around with a big, red whiffle ball bat since I could walk until I was able to pick up a metal bat,” Harris added. “I was always either throwing a ball or hitting a ball.”
Growing into an elite player
Harris attended Washington Middle School, and once his game developed through his younger years, he would attend Prep Baseball Report and Perfect Game camps during high school. Harris contributed most of his success in going to the camps.
“I went to the Prep Baseball Report (camps) as a 5-foot-6, 135-pound sophomore. I didn’t expect much going there, I was below average but as soon as I went I got addicted.” Harris said. “I would study the players who were getting exposure, and apply their movements and swing to my own game. I would watch the best players in Illinois’ videos, study that and go to the batting cage.”
Now standing at 6-foot-1 and roughly 180 pounds, Harris has become an elite baseball player in central Illinois. PBR praised both Harris' bat and arm, writing that he "continues to shine every time he gets in front of us. ... (He) is a dynamic prospect with all kinds of athleticism to his entire game. ... He’s a high-level prospect in the state’s senior class."
Getting back to state
Washington is primed to make a return trip to the state finals this season, and Harris said his development into a leader has really helped keep the underclassmen focused and motivated. The Panthers, who have clinched the Mid-Illini Conference title, have four games remaining in regular season.
“Me and Gus have both embraced that role of being a leader, and making sure to set that example of being a good teammate and staying positive,” added Harris. “I have a lot of guys ask me how I stay so calm, and I just tell them it’s the experience and the more you play and know.”
Like most baseball players, Harris has his go-to meals — two favorites he can’t go without during the season.
“If we have a 7 p.m. game, I’ll head over to KFC to get a chicken sandwich and fries,” Harris said. “But the biggest one I have on a weekly basis is Culver’s. It's unbelievable. The chicken sandwich and cheese curds.”
John Komosa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jkom91.