By Ray Hamill — McKinleyville senior Evan Fraser still has some unfinished business to take care in high school and he has some lofty expectations for the spring.
But he’ll go into his final high school baseball season knowing where he’ll be playing next year.
On Wednesday evening, in front of friends, family, coaches and teammates, Fraser signed his letter of intent to play at Hawaii Hilo after graduation.
He became the second local athlete to commit their future to the Vulcans this week, following in the footsteps of Eureka senior Maia Hales, who signed her letter of intent to play soccer at Hawaii Hilo on Monday.
And like Hales, Fraser was sold after visiting the Hawaii Hilo campus a couple of months ago.
Two reasons in particular helped sway Fraser, who is expected to see plenty of time on the mound right away with the Vulcans.
“I wanted to go somewhere it was warm,” he said with a smile after signing his letter. “And I wanted to go somewhere I could play (immediately).”
Fraser has played a key role for the Panthers in his first three years with the program and has steadily improved his game in that time while working hard on his craft.
Last year, he traveled for several tournaments with TKB baseball out of the Bay Area, putting in a lot of hours to help hone his skills.
“It’s what he’s meant to do is to pitch,” said McKinleyville head coach Mike Dobrec, who has seen the improvement in Fraser’s game up close. “And you can see it in his eyes when he’s on the mound and he’s got the ball in his hand. He loves it.”
Both player and coach, however, stressed there is still some unfinished business to take care of before he heads to Hawaii to begin what will be an exciting next chapter in his life and career.
“We’re not done yet for high school,” Dobrec told the gathering at Wednesday’s signing. “He’s going to be a big part of our team this year and we’ve still got a lot left to do this year as a team. This is what we’ve been building for.”
Fraser echoed the sentiment and believes the Panthers are ready to challenge the rest of the Big 5.
Asked what he will remember most from his time playing for the Panthers, the senior pitcher answered with a smile, “Hopefully next season.”
“I’m looking forward to next year,” he added. “I think it’s going to be the best year of my high school career and we’re looking to win league.”
Fraser also paid tribute to his teammates, many of whom he has played alongside for years, from Little League to travel ball to high school.
“I’ve been with all of these guys forever,” he said.
That group includes fellow seniors Tyson Bragg, Tenoch Tapia and Branson Dobrec, as well as large group of talented juniors, who together are expecting to challenge the larger schools in the Big 5 for the 2024 league pennant.
Fraser will join a Division-II Vulcans program that has been competitive in recent years, with winning records in each of the past three full seasons, including a 25-19 mark this past spring.