(Carrollton, GA) – Blake Butcher had a decision to make. It was the spring of 2012 and the budding high school senior was wrapping up the recruiting process to determine where he would play college baseball.
National powerhouse Chipola College recruited him and promised him a spot as long as another third baseman recruit was drafted in the upcoming Major League Baseball draft.
Enter Todd Pratt, the head coach of the West Georgia Tech Golden Knights. West Georgia Tech had just completed its inaugural season as an NJCAA D-I program in 2012, and Pratt was in need of a power-hitting third baseman.
Pratt zeroed in on the Oconee County product. Knowing he was going up against a storied program for Butcher’s services, the former MLB catcher gave Butcher an ultimatum of sorts.
“Coach Pratt told me that he wanted me to come to West Georgia Tech, but that he needed to know something in a few days,” Butcher said.
“I knew that Chipola was a great opportunity, but they didn’t give me a solid offer. If the other kid that they were recruiting went in the draft, I was their choice. But coach Pratt made it clear that I was his number one guy. He told me I had to tell him something within a few days, otherwise he was moving on to someone else.”
For Butcher, it was an easy decision. The allure of playing for a former pro player at a start-up program was more than enough to bring him to WGTC.
“I really knew it when I came here for a visit, that this would be the right fit for me,” he said. “I knew I would be playing for a great coach, someone who has been around the game for a long time. He has been a big part of my success here.”
Butcher has turned into one of the more prolific hitters in the conference. He is tied for conference lead in home runs, with seven. He is hitting .338 and 19 of his 47 base hits have been extra base hits with 11 doubles and one triple. He leads the team and is third in the conference in slugging percentage, at .583.
He entered the West Georgia Tech baseball history books thanks to a game at ABAC in early April in which he hit homeruns in three-consecutive at bats – a first at West Georgia Tech.
“That was the highlight of my career,” Butcher said. “I really felt good that day, and I was seeing the ball well all week. I just kind of got in a zone where I could see the ball well and I was swinging it well. There is no better feeling that being in that zone as a hitter and I definitely was in it that day.”
Butcher has carried over his success on the field to the classroom where he currently holds a 3.71 GPA. He plans to major in Finance or Construction Management and will likely follow in his father’s footsteps and work in the family-owned business at Hard Rock Concrete which serves mostly the metro Atlanta area.
He credits the support system of West Georgia Tech faculty and staff for helping him along the way over the past two years.
“All of the teachers have been great. They’ve worked with me with extra tutoring when I’ve needed it and they have worked with me with my schedule which can get a little crazy in the spring with baseball games and practice. The athletics staff was a big help, too. It’s been a great experience here, and I’m glad that I came.”
Off the field you’ll likely find him in a duck blind or doing some sort of hunting or outdoor activity. He’s a country boy at heart, so this area tucked in the western part of Georgia has served him well.
It sets up an interesting choice as he enters the recruiting process again now that he is set to transfer on to the next stop in his playing career.
One of the schools that is currently recruiting him is Flagler College, located in St. Augustine, Fla., which is on the eastern coast of Florida between Jacksonville and Daytona Beach. Other possible landing spots include West Alabama, the University of North Georgia and Georgia Southern, among others.
Back to 2012 and the man that convinced Butcher to join the Golden Knights program, Todd Pratt. He knew then that he was getting a coveted third baseman. But he knows now that he got much more than that.
“Blake has been an outstanding student and athlete for WGTC,” Pratt said. “He has been a leader in the classroom and on the field. He is a warrior that has excelled the two years he has represented West Georgia Technical College. Blake will be a great representative wherever he chooses to continue his education and playing career. He has many schools offering him and one of them will be proud he chose them.”
Just about anyone who is successful will tell you that they wouldn’t be where they are without someone helping along the way. When asked who that might be for him, Butcher didn’t hesitate.
“My parents have been there every step of the way,” he said. “They have supported me through everything. They came to all of my games since I started playing when I was five or six. Sometimes they would drive four or five hours one-way just to see one ballgame and turn around and drive home. I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Ken and Debbie Butcher have indeed been present at just about every West Georgia Tech game, cheering on their son as he finishing up a golden career with the Golden Knights.
And no matter where he goes next, they will be there, too. Supporting his every move. Now Blake Butcher has another decision to make – the beach in St. Augustine, or perhaps Livingston, Ala., or north or south Georgia.
For a country boy at heart that loves to play baseball – and happens to be pretty good at it – he’s in a pretty good place. ~Aaron Sones, WGTC Sports Information Director