The baseball program at the University of St. Francis, Fort Wayne is set a distinct Van Wert feel to it.
That’s because Van Wert High School seniors Jalen McCracken and Nathan Temple have signed letters of intent to play baseball for the collegiate Cougars. In addition, the team will feature former Van Wert alumni Ryan McCracken, Justice Tussing and Caleb Fetzer, who transferred from the University of Rio Grande.
McCracken, the son of Eric and Melody McCracken will be a three year letterman on the Van Wert baseball team. An outfielder, he’s been an integral part of Cougar teams that have won 32 games over the past two seasons. He also played in the ACME state championships two of the last three summers.
Surrounded by familly and coaches, Jalen McCracken signed with USF. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent
McCracken will be reunited with his brother Ryan, who transferred from Glenville State University.
“That’s awesome because we thought we thought in high school that would be the last time we’d play together but now that we’re going to play together in college, that means a lot not only to me but also to my family,” McCracken said.
With some hard work, it may not take long for McCracken to crack the lineup for St. Francis.
“They’re losing two outfielders so hopefully I’ll be able to get into that rotation as soon as possible,” McCracken said, who added that he also considered Taylor University.
McCracken, who earned WBL honorable mention accolades this past football season will study secondary math at St. Francis.
Temple, the son of Todd and Anna Temple, plays first base for Van Wert and will be a three year letterman on the baseball team.
Also surrounded by family and coaches, Nathan Temple signs with USF. Scott Truxell photo
“When I visited St. Francis I liked the campus and that was going to be the No. 1 priority,” Temple explained. “I met with the coach (Dustin Butcher), a really awesome guy and I know he’s done a great job with the Van Wert guys. I talked to them, they really like it there and it’s an all around great school.”
As far as playing time, Temple acknowledged it’ll be a challenge, but one that he welcomes.
“There’s competition just like at every school,” Temple said. “There’s going to be competition and you have to work your way up, but I feel like in a couple of years I could get up there.”
Temple also considered Bluffton University, and he said he plans to room with McCracken. He also said the fact that having several former Van Wert players played a small role in his decision to attend St. Francis.
In 2017, Temple led Van Wert with 21 RBI in 26 games and was voted Most Valuable Defensive Player in 2018.
He also earned second team All WBL honors for the 2018 football season.
Temple will major in exercise science and business at St. Francis.