An Arm and a Leg
May 19, 2017 04:00PM
● By Mike
During the past twenty-plus years, Southlake Carroll has established a tradition of excellence in a variety of fields, from academics to athletics.
Near the top are the baseball and football programs at Carroll, with both claiming state titles during that stretch (including a Texas-record seven all-time on the gridiron) and perennially qualifying for the postseason. More specifically, however, the Dragons have built a reputation for producing elite pitchers on the diamond and kickers on the turf.
Senior Kole Ramage is both—an arm and a leg.
The two-sport star is set to begin the postseason for Carroll’s baseball team and he wraps up what is one of the more legendary athletic careers the program has seen. A multi-year starter on the baseball team, Ramage signed with Arkansas and has been a fixture on the mound and in the middle of the lineup for Carroll since his sophomore campaign, where he threw for a 3-1 record with 40 Ks.
This year, the senior has posted a 6-2 record with a 2.00 ERA, 1.10 whip and 64 strikeouts in 49 innings on the mound. When not on the mound, Ramage is a premier outfielder who is batting .363 with one HR, 21 RBIs and 14 runs at the plate heading into postseason play for the Dragons.
In football, Ramage’s two-year stint as an All-District kicker saw him convert 99-of-100 extra points and all 12 field goals he attempted—including an already legendary 55-yarder in this season’s hope openeragainst Tulsa Union.
But long before leading Carroll’s football and baseball teams to success, Ramage found his athletic footing while growing up in Virginia.
“I’ve been playing baseball competitively since I was five or six, but I’ve been playing with my dad and brother probably since I was three,” he says. “I also played a lot of soccer growing up. There was a professional team called the Richmond Kickers right down the street from us and that was a big deal to us. So I played a lot of soccer, and I also played basketball and even a little tennis—even though I wasn’t very good.”
Soon after his competitive sports life began, Ramage and his family arrived in Southlake, and by the time he reached middle school, his football career began.
“I didn’t start until the seventh grade,” he says. “I decided to give it a shot and I think my soccer background was something that really helped me out.”
Ironically, Ramage also credits playing football for his success on the diamond.
“Being a kicker has a lot to do with the mental side of things,” he says. “The pressure of having to make that one field goal in a big situation—I really think that led me to be a mental pitcher and to really think about the game and what I’m doing out there.”
As noted, the pressure has done little to affect Ramage’s performance, and he has shined in the clutch with key starts in the baseball playoffs under his belt as well as a game-tying field goal in the closing seconds of an eventual overtime win over rival Coppell in football.
Ramage is yet to record a walk-off hit in baseball, but didn’t take much time to recall the pivotal moment in his time on the mound.
“I would have to say the highlight of my career came as a sophomore,” he says. “That was a big shot in my baseball life. It was game 3 of [the third round of] the playoffs and we were playing Coppell. I pitched well and we got the win and that just gave me the confidence to go out there and beat anyone. It was a big stepping stone for me.
The Dragons would bow out in the regional semifinals that year and were bounced in the area round last year by Hebron. Now a senior, Ramage is hopeful for a state berth that has eluded him and the Dragons since winning it all in 2014. And despite a new cast of characters around him, Ramage isn’t the least bit surprised by the success Carroll has already achieved this season—including claiming the District 5-6A title.
“I always thought we would be good when we put all the pieces together,” he says. “We struggled early, but once we gelled and became more of a team we found what we needed to do and we’ve exploited it. It’s led us to lot of success so far.”
He also believes first-year head coach Larry Vucan—who took over for longtime coach Larry Hughes—has been a benefit for the squad.
“Coach Hughes is more of a quiet guy,” Ramage says. “He knows what to say and when to say it and how to say it. I think that comes from his psychology background. Coach V has more ferociousness to him. He will get up on you if needed. He has a little more heat and I think that change might have helped. Coach Hughes is a great coach and he still supports us, but Coach Vucan has a little more fire.”
There were obvious growing pains early on this season as the team opened up with a 3-3 record. But Vucan, Ramage and company noted things really began to come during district play.
“I think it really started with Game 2 of the Flower Mound series,” he says. “We won 19-1 and I think that solidified and showed everyone how good we could be.”
And as the Dragons enter the postseason, the expectations have been sky high. “We want to win our last game and I think we have the ability to do that,” says Ramage. “I don’t think anyone has the depth or pitching that we have, and our hitters always battle and find a way to pull it out at the end.”
A Family of Razorbacks
Following the postseason, Ramage will depart for Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he will take a semester of summer school in July before the fall semester and baseball workouts begin.
Ramage noted he considered the possibility of playing baseball and football in college before ultimately settling on just baseball.
“I thought a little about both,” he says. “But baseball is not only what I enjoy the most, but what I think I have the best chance for success in.”
Where he would attend college took little debate, however, after growing up in family in which both parents as well as his brother attended Arkansas.
“It’s always been my dream,” he says. “Growing up rooting for them and then being in the SEC with competition they play and the facilities they have—I got my offer and accepted it two days later.”