Boyle’s Owens signs to play baseball at UK

Published 5:00 am Thursday, November 23, 2023

By Mike Marsee

Contributing Writer

Cameron Owens has always been a tough out.

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When he was 13 years old, he was holding his own in the batter’s box against a former pro more than twice his age. More recently, he dug in to overcome an injury that threatened to derail his baseball career.

Owens’ tenacity and resilience were rewarded Wednesday when the Boyle County senior signed to play for Kentucky.

It was a day of celebration for Owens, one he said wouldn’t have been possible without help from a number of people.

“I’m really grateful for all the support I’ve gotten throughout this process,” Owens said. “And now that I’ve gotten it over with I can focus on getting better and maintaining strength and competing at the next level.”

A strong junior season and a good showing at summer camps and showcases opened the door to Kentucky for Owens, a self-described “homebody” who said both he and his parents wanted him to stay close to home.

“I live in Kentucky, and I’ve always wanted to go to UK,” he said.

Owens, who said he also considered Georgia Tech, Louisville and a handful of junior colleges, said he was impressed by Kentucky coach Nick Mingione and his Christian faith and values.

“That was a good aspect for me,” Owens said.

Owens batted a team-high .481 as a junior. He led Boyle in home runs (9), RBIs (40), hits (50), runs (51) and stolen bases (27 in 27 attempts), and he had only nine strikeouts in 104 at-bats.

“He had a breakout year,” Boyle coach Adam Blair said. “He did wonderful things to help our team win a district championship, and he had a great season. He’s a great infielder, and he’s a terror on the basepaths.”

Blair also coached Owens in the East-West all-star games following the season, and he said he knew that showcase would do wonders for Owens.

“I knew that would be a breakout day for him. I knew that was when people were going to see (him),” Blair said. “He’s worked really hard and he’s sitting at this table today, and we’re excited for that.”

Owens played primarily at second base last season, with some time at shortstop and third base as well. He is also a pitcher – he had a 0.71 earned-run average and 24 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings as a freshman – but a back injury limited him to two pitching appearances in 2022 and kept him off the mound last season.

He said Kentucky recruited him as a position player but will use him as a two-way player if he is able to pitch again.

“If I can pitch, they definitely want me to pitch as well,” he said.

Patrick Cooper, a former Boyle assistant coach who now works as a private instructor, said Owens worked hard to put himself in position to play for a Power Five program.

“The big story here is adversity and the way he’s battled through it,” Cooper said.

Cooper, a 2007 Boyle graduate who pitched professionally for four seasons, recalled pitching to Owens, whom he called “one of the most gifted athletes I’ve ever known,” when he was in middle school.

“Cam was hard to get out when he was 13 years old,” Cooper said. “That’s just the way he is. He’s a competitor. He’s not going to let you beat him.”

Owens said he will continue to work in the weight room and with Cooper as he prepares for his senior season and the transition to major college baseball.

“I just need to maintain my strength and maintain my talent and skill and improve on it when I get there,” he said.

Blair said Owens joins a list of about 60 Boyle players who have gone on to play collegiate baseball, including 11 who are currently playing.

Owens will become the third local player on the UK roster, joining pitchers Christian Howe of Danville, a redshirt sophomore, and Evan Hart of Mercer County, a freshman.