From Williams Baptist College
Williams Baptist College assistant baseball coach Frank Lee gives the best definition of Viola shortstop Matt Prinner using just two words.
Prinner will take that savvy to Walnut Ridge this fall as the four-year starter for the Longhorns signed Wednesday to play baseball for the Eagles.
"We got to start watching him play in the 10th grade," Lee said, "in tournaments. Baseball just comes natural to him. It's not something he has to think about. He just does it and does it well.
"We expect him to come in and compete right away," he added. "We lost three of our top four middle infielders, and our goal for him is to come in and compete for playing time."
The environment and size of the campus were factors that led Prinner to Williams, which is coached by head coach John Katrosh and assisted by Lee and Andy Arnold.
"I thought it was a good campus," he said, "and the people were really nice. It just made me feel at home. It's real small and just a good environment. It's close to home and easy to get back. It's a good program with a lot of history, and I think I'm a good fit there."
Prinner is one of nine Longhorn seniors who have guided Viola to an 87-23 record the past four seasons, including three straight conference championships and two straight district and regional championships.
"It's been real special," Prinner said. "We've been together since we were little kids, T-ball and up. It's been awesome. Our main goal has been to get (to a state championship), but we're just taking it a step at a time, winning conference, district and regional."
The senior-laden Longhorns are 25-1 on the season and are scheduled to play in the 1A-2 West District Tournament today.
"It's one of those special classes that comes through," Viola head coach Jeremy Lewis said. "Matt and all the kids are such a special group, and they have produced and done a lot of damage. We're going to be sad to see them go."
Prinner's teammate, Jacob Luther, is slated to sign next week to play at the next level, as well.
Lewis has noticed tremendous amounts of improvement from Prinner at shortstop over the previous four years.
"Year-to-year, you can see the leaps he has made," Lewis said, "especially as he has gotten stronger. The throws he was able to make, from year to year, he got better by leaps and bounds."
Prinner looks to keep improving at Williams Baptist College.
"I'm going to try really hard and give myself the best opportunity," he said. "Wherever I can fit in, I'm going to work real hard and just try to get better."
Williams is a four-year, liberal arts college at Walnut Ridge. The Eagles compete in the American Midwest Conference of the NAIA.
Story Courtesy of the Baxter Bulletin and Neal Denton