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Molloy fielder heads west

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Jonathon Ramon was in search of the best opportunity — on and off the baseball diamond — but he also wanted to get away from the moment the college process began.

The University of Evansville offered all of the above. After an official visit to the Missouri Valley Conference school, the Archbishop Molloy infielder/righthander verbally committed, picking the Purple Aces over St. John’s, Louisville, UConn and Texas A & M.

“The moment I landed in Evansville, I saw the real Midwest — I saw farmland and I knew it was going to be very different from city life,” he said. “Once I saw the school, I felt comfortable and saw myself succeeding and excelling there.”

Evansville Coach Wes Carroll told Ramon he expects him to make an immediate impact. The opportunity will be there for him to start as a freshman.

“That motivated me,” he said.

The Purple Aces, who won 32 games in 2010 and 28 last year, began recruiting Ramon this spring and kept tabs on him while others were inconsistent.

“They really showed they wanted me,” Ramon said.

St. John’s offered a solid package, said Johnny Hernandez, Ramon’s summer coach with Youth Service, but wanted to move Ramon behind the plate. Evansville liked him at third base, the position he moved to this summer. Evansville got involved when Hernandez got in contact with Carroll through a friend.

A Jackson Heights native, Ramon feels living the next four years in Indiana will be good for him. It will force him to mature and grow up being away from home.

“Ever since I started talking to schools and getting contacts, I always wanted to go away,” Ramon said. “That was my mindset. At the end of the day, I’m happy with my decision, going away and experiencing college life.”

Hernandez believes Evansville is a good fit for Ramon. A former pro ballplayer himself, he always encourages his players to go away for college, to experience a high level of competition to see how they measure up.

“If they want to get to that next level, they have to try to get out of here,” he said.

Hernandez said Ramon’s defense at the hot corner still needs work — he was a first baseman until just recently — but said he can “hit in any Division I lineup in the country” and has shown promise at the position.

“He’s such a good athlete, I think the transition will be pretty easy for him,” the coach said.

Ramon is excited about the opportunity. He’s always wanted to play Division I baseball and now has the chance to do so, in the situation he sought.

“It feels great, such a relief,” he said. “Now I can just focus on school, play baseball, have fun and look forward to next year.”

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