Sports have been a passion for Yoakum’s Jesse Braden and the former Bulldog will continue his athletic career on the collegiate level after signing a letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Houston-Victoria.
Braden, a four-sport athlete at Yoakum, is expected to join the Jaguars in the outfield for the 2011 season.
“Jesse is an athlete,” Jaguars head coach Terry Puhl said. “His speed caught my eye. He has good arm strength and we’ll work with his throwing mechanics to help him utilize these gifts in centerfield for the future.”
Braden was an All-District 28-3A first team selection at shortstop this past season and also pitched for the Bulldogs. He compiled a .288 batting average with 17 RBI and 20 runs in 25 games for the Bulldogs, who advanced to the area playoffs. He also earned second team all-district honors as a junior.
Braden was a two-way starter for the Bulldogs in football where he was an All-District 28-3A second team pick at linebacker as well as an all-state honorable mention pick in the secondary on the Texas Sports Writers Association team. He had 96 tackles and two interceptions on defense, while making 20 catches for 510 yards and seven touchdowns from his tight end position on offense.
He averaged 7.9 points, 5.1 rebound and 1.9 assists in helping the Bulldogs reach the basketball playoffs and was also a member of the Bulldogs’ relay teams, ran the 400 meters and high jumped as Yoakum won a district and regional championship in track and field.
But baseball was his first love, and UHV was his first choice to try and continue his career at the collegiate level.
“I wanted to play close to home and UHV was the first place I wanted to go to,” Braden said. “I’ve kept up with the program and have seen how successful it’s been and just wanted to be a part of that.”
Braden knows he will have plenty of work to do to bring his game up to the collegiate level.
“I’m ready to learn new things and improve my game on the college level,” Braden said. “I’m looking forward to the experience.”
Braden will be one of a number of freshmen joining the UHV baseball team for the first time this season and Puhl feels with some work, he will be a good fit with the Jaguars’ program.
“Jesse and I will work together in the hitting cage to begin the process in making him the complete player,” Puhl said. “He’s young and will need some time to develop. I look forward to working with him.”