PLANT CITY—When Durant pitcher Trey Oest was born, his parents named him hoping he’d follow in their hard court hooping footsteps.
Instead, they got a baseball player who committed to the University of Virginia yesterday.
In front of a full conference room behind the school’s front office, Oest’s signature on his national letter of intent ended a recruiting process that began two years ago.
“Once I saw the campus and got to know the coaches better, I really fell in love with it,” Oest said.
Virginia, which was ranked No. 1 heading into last year’s College World Series, only has one other player from Florida currently on its roster. Durant coach Butch Valdes said that he can’t recall another Cougars player heading north to attend Thomas Jefferson’s University, but with Oest’s stat line (a 2.21 ERA with 52 strikeouts against nine walks in 44.1 innings, in addition to a .295 batting average), he wasn’t surprised by the Cavalier’s interest.
“Between pitching and hitting, defense, everything, he’s going to be just a top-notch athlete,” Valdes said. “He’ll be dearly missed, but we’re very proud of him and wish him the best.”
While Oest may have been named for a basketball shot, he has baseball in his blood. His grandfather, Em Lindbeck, made it to the majors for a cup of coffee with the Detroit Tigers in 1960. When he passed away in 2008, Oest’s freshman year, the hard-throwing righty who has a fastball that exceeds 90 mph was determined to follow in his footsteps.
“He motivated me,” Oest said. “Once he passed away, that had a big effect on me.”
Oest’s summer ball coach, Chet Lemon, also played professionally, spending 16 seasons with the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers. He expects his pupil to make an instant impact at Virginia.
“He has a real good idea of what he’s doing on the mound, beyond his years,” Lemon said. “For a school like Virginia to recruit you, they’re not looking for a project. They’re looking for youngsters who are going to be able to step up and make a contribution right away.”