Austin Schultz has a big presence on the baseball diamond. He can hit for power, steal bases and provide steady play on defense.
So it should be of no surprise to know that the Norris senior is thinking big when it comes to future goals. On Wednesday, the two-sport standout committed to the Kentucky baseball program.
And that big goal: Help the Wildcats get to the College World Series in Omaha.
"That's the ultimate goal is coming back home," Schultz said moments after making his announcement. "I'm traveling all the way out there, but you know, I want to come back home and hold up a trophy in front of my family and friends, and I think Kentucky gives me the best opportunity to do that."
Kentucky just came off one of its best seasons in program history under first-year coach Nick Mingione. The Wildcats, playing in the ultra-tough Southeastern Conference, won 43 games and advanced to their first-ever Super Regional.
For Schultz, one of the state's top multi-sport athletes, Kentucky gives him the best opportunity to play against the nation's top teams and players on a weekly basis.
"I think (the coaches) said they faced seven first-round pitchers last season," said Schultz, who picked Kentucky over Coastal Carolina (2015 national champion), N.C. State, Xavier and Wichita State. "I think that's going to be the best way to prepare me for pro ball and hopefully the big leagues someday."
I am blessed to announce that I have committed to play baseball at the University of Kentucky🔵⚪️ #BigBlueNation #WeAreUK @PerfectGameUSA pic.twitter.com/vICyrSHVCp
— Austin Schultz (@AustinSchultz23) August 9, 2017
Schultz, who plays shortstop, was named a first-team Super-Stater after hitting .440 during his junior season with the Titans. He finished with 40 hits, 38 runs scored, 24 RBIs, six doubles, five triples and five homers. He also stole 25 bases and was named Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year.
But Schultz's talents also extend to the football field. He rushed for 1,641 yards last fall, and was named to the Super-State first team as a punter (41.7-yard average).
Baseball is Schultz's first love. He played summer ball for the Colorado Yard Dawgs, traveling around the country, calling it an "incredible experience." It was at a tournament in Georgia when Kentucky coaches took notice of Schultz. He visited the campus in Lexington, Kentucky, last weekend and the Wildcats made an offer.
"There's nothing not to like about it, so when the opportunity arose, I was ecstatic," Schultz said. "It was a great offer for me and my family financially, so it was the best opportunity for me."
Schultz was once committed to Wichita State, but changes to the Shockers' coaching staff earlier this summer re-opened Schultz's recruiting process.
"Honestly, probably the best decision of my life," Schultz said. "It opened up opportunities that I didn't get my first time go-around through the recruiting process."
Schultz's overall game continues to improve. For example, the Norris coaches put the Titans through a weightlifting program before the spring season. That added a power element to Schultz's game. He hit five homers for the Titans, and nine playing for his Colorado showcase team.