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Saturday, February 12, 2011

PG Indoor draws Irish recruits

Jeff Dahn        
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – There’s a good chance high school seniors Jason McMurray and Ryan Bull will get to know each other pretty well in the next three or four years as members of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish baseball team.

But before ending up at Perfect Game’s headquarters here for the PG Pitcher/Catcher Indoor Showcase on Saturday (Feb. 12), the two Notre Dame signees had never before met.

“I haven’t met him. I can’t wait to meet him,” McMurray said before stepping in to hit some live pitching Saturday morning.

“I haven’t met any of the other commits, so it should be exciting,” Bull said before taking part in live catching and hitting sessions.

McMurray is a 6-foot-1, 170-pound senior shortstop at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Bull is a 6-1, 210-pound senior catcher/first baseman/outfielder at Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School.

The two players’ paths actually crossed at least once before when they were both in attendance at the 2009 PG Midwest Top Prospect Showcase at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids. Even though they have already signed to play at Notre Dame, they keep coming back to Perfect Game events.

“The game keeps me coming, obviously; I love the game,” McMurray said. “(Perfect Game) has helped me so much and it’s interesting to see what more they can help me with. And playing with the best players from around the Midwest and around the country is pretty fun.”

Bull was at his second PG Pitcher/Catcher Indoor and his seventh PG event overall.

“They’re very beneficial, and getting your name out there in the college and professional recruiting process,” he said. “It shows your progression. You can one day, then you can improve, improve and improve, and it shows the building process of your abilities.”

McMurray has been to the PG National Showcase, the PG Midwest Top Prospect twice, numerous PG WWBA tournaments and plays in the PG Iowa Wood Bat League. He is Perfect Game’s No. 2 ranked player in the state of Iowa and No. 390 nationally. He also plays football and basketball and carries a 3.7 GPA at Dowling.

The youngster from central Iowa had always dreamed of playing in the Southeastern Conference – until he made his official visit to the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Ind., and met first-year Fighting Irish coach Mik Aoki.

“I wanted to go to a big baseball school because that’s what I wanted to do my whole life. The SEC was really the peak of my interest and I thought that’s where I was going to end up,” McMurray said. “But once I got on campus at Notre Dame, it was pretty special.

“I really, really liked (Coach Aoki) – he was really down to earth. A lot of places we went we’d meet the head coach and he’d send us off with the recruiting coordinator to do our visit. (Aoki) walked with us all six hours and just kind of hung out with us. It was pretty cool.”

Perfect Game has Bull ranked as the No. 3 top prospect in the state of Minnesota and No. 500 nationally in the class of 2011. He has attended the PG National Underclass Showcase, the Midwest Top Prospect and the WWBA Kernels Foundation among his seven PG events.

Bull had his heart set on attending Cornell University but, like McMurray, had his mind changed by a campus visit to South Bend.

“I went down there (to Notre Dame) for a camp and they offered me right out of the camp,” he said. “It was just a tremendous experience. The people were very welcoming, they have an up-and-coming program, and I just got a really warm feeling from them and I was really interested in being an Irishmen.”

Of course, there’s always the chance that one or both of these players will never step foot on the Notre Dame campus. The 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft is only four months away, and both indicated they will be keeping a close eye on the process.

“It’s hard to pass up a Notre Dame education, along with Notre Dame’s baseball (tradition) and the alumni,” Bull said. “But I’m very interested (in the Draft) and I can’t wait to see how I perform here and what the scouts have to say.”

McMurray said one of the main reasons he was at the Pitcher/Catcher Indoor was to get in front of pro scouts.

“Now that I can relax with the college (decision out of the way) I can settle down and see what more I can get,” he said.

In the meantime, both players were enjoying being at the Pitcher/Catcher Indoor.

“You get to get in front of pro scouts and you get to play with other top quality players,” Bull said. “It’s just a real good experience and you get some exposure while you’re doing it.”
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