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Day has arrived: Pinkerton grad putting up huge numbers at Kansas State

Apr. 2—Although Brady Day has been a productive player at the plate throughout his baseball career, it would have been hard for anyone to envision him putting up the kind of offensive numbers he has for Kansas State University this spring.

Through 26 games, Day, a junior, ranks among the top five Big 12 players in the following categories: — Batting average: .402 (third) — RBIs: 36 (second) — Hits: 43 (third) — OPS: 1.181 (fourth) — On-base percentage: .508 (third) — Slugging percentage: .673 (fifth)

"I worked really hard on a few things in the offseason, one of those being (improving) my power numbers and hitting the ball hard in general," Day said before a recent game against Texas. "Our hitting coach (Austin Wates) is just a very knowledgeable guy, so he and I worked together a lot to improve in some areas that needed improvement."

Day, a Hampstead resident, was a three-sport athlete at Pinkerton Academy (baseball, football and basketball). He batted .440 during his junior season with the Astros, but his most noteworthy athletic accomplishment in high school may have been when he tied a school record by making seven 3-pointers in a game during the 2018-19 season. The record was broken by Cristian Brander, who tossed in 11 3-pointers against Portsmouth this season.

Day didn't play baseball as a senior in high school because the season was canceled by COVID. Pinkerton coach Steve Campo said it's difficult to forecast anyone enjoying the type of success Day is having in one of college baseball's best conferences, but added that he did expect Day to flourish offensively wherever he played in college.

"We throw live (batting practice) to each other now and then, and it was tough to call pitches against him because there were no real holes in his swing," Campo said. "You're also dealing with a kid who was a three-sport athlete his whole career and never gave baseball that season before, and as a junior he was still one of the top hitters in the state.

"Once he turned his (full) attention to baseball, there was no ceiling for him."

After playing some third base early in his career at Kansas State, Day has become the team's everyday second baseman. He's been hitting third or fourth in the batting order.

He gave a verbal commitment to play baseball at Bryant University following his sophomore season at Pinkerton, but faced an uncertain future when Bryant made a coaching change following his junior year.

"All I had was a verbal (non-binding) commitment and I didn't really hear from Bryant (after the coaching change)," Day explained. "I played well in a tournament in Georgia and then some schools began reaching out to me, including Kansas State. The only time I really heard about Kansas State is when I was in middle school. I remember them being in March Madness, so that's kind of the only impression I had of Kansas State. Never been to the Midwest before."

Day may have benefited from the fact that Kansas State coach Pete Hughes has New England roots. Hughes was born in Brockton, Mass., and was the head coach at Boston College from 1999 to 2006. After several conversations with Day, Hughes pulled the trigger on a scholarship offer.

"It was definitely a big decision," Day said. "Should I go that far away? But being in the Big 12, it's one of the best conferences in college baseball, so I figured if I really wanted to learn how good I could be at this sport, I have to challenge myself."

Day faced another big decision last summer after he was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 12th round (No. 369 overall) of the MLB Draft. He was coming off a season when he had a .356/.492/.459 slash line, reached base in 36 consecutive games and was an All-Big 12 honorable mention selection.

Day said he waffled on his decision, but ultimately decided to return to school to work on his game and improve his draft stock.

"Do I think Brady is better than a 12th-round pick?" Hughes said to Kansas State Sports Extra. "Absolutely. He's proving that every day right now."

Day had two home runs and five RBIs in a 10-1 victory over UMass Lowell earlier this season, and had a five-hit game during a 9-3 victory over Houston on March 24.

"I've always had confidence at the plate," Day said. "I stick with my approach, go with the scouting report that we're given and try to do my best."

So far this season, his best has undoubtedly been better than many expected.

rbrown@unionleader.com