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VALE – Kade Kurata started hitting a ball with a bat in the t-ball program in Vale. Next year, the ball will be delivered from a pitcher from the Frontier Conference and the bat will belong to Eastern Oregon University.
Kurata joined his Viking coaches, parents and grandmother on Tuesday, May 17 to formally sign with the Mountaineers of Eastern Oregon University. Inking his name on the paper concludes a journey that started in the community park in Vale.
“I visited Eastern Oregon a couple times and it just feels like a larger version of Vale,” said Kurata. “It just feels like a great place to play baseball.”
Kurata, planning on studying physical science while in La Grande, has no set plans for his position on the Mountaineer’s team, but would like to be on the mound.
“I would like to pitch,” he said. “But I will play anywhere to get on the field.”
Looking back on his days with the Vikings, Kurata said just walking the hallways of Vale High School and being with friends will be his memory of high school days.
“I really can’t think of a better place to grow up than Vale,” he said.
In addition to his skills on the baseball field, Kurata should be a favorite among his teammates.
“With him signing with Eastern Oregon, it is close enough I can bake and bring him and the team cookies,” said mom Mandi Trevino.
Looking back, Trevino said she remembers Kurata’s time for a club team with a trip to North Carolina for tryouts.
“He met friends he still has from that trip,” she said.
Matt Kurata recalls his son throwing a perfect game versus Umatilla and backing up his pitching with two home runs on the same day.
“This has been his dream since he was little and it is great to see this day come,” said Matt.
“Kade works harder than anyone I have seen on the field,” said Vale head coach Garrett Brown. “This is something he has wanted his whole life and it is great to see him get it.”
The Mountaineers recently finished the season with a 11-35 overall record and a 4-17 conference record. The program is only back a few years since being cut in 2006 and returning in 2020. The Mountaineers played their first home game on April 11, 2021.
The Vale player joins a team that includes Irrigon’s Adrian Roa, Pendleton’s Kyler Lunny, Cooper Roberts, Tucker Zander and Justin Duso, La Pine’s Jacob Farnsworth and Alex Farnsworth, La Grande’s Justin Frederick, and Baker’s Mason Van Arsdall.
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