Van Wert senior Jalen McCracken signs his letter of intent surrounded by his family and coaches. (DHI Media/ Reid Maus)
Van Wert senior Jalen McCracken signs his letter of intent surrounded by his family and coaches. (DHI Media/ Reid Maus)

VAN WERT — Two Van Wert seniors are following the trend of recent of Cougar baseball players to become…Cougar baseball players. Jalen McCracken and Nathan Temple both signed letters of intent to play ball at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne.

The two of them are following in the footsteps of recent Van Wert graduates that are playing baseball at USF, including McCracken’s older brother Ryan, Justice Tussing and Caleb Fetzer.

Jalen McCracken is the son of Eric and Melody McCracken. This spring will mark McCracken’s third year on varsity, playing outfield. Off the diamond he plans to study Education.

“[Saint Francis’] Education program is pretty nice,” said McCracken. “I’m planning on studying secondary math, so I figured it would be a good fit for me.”

Without a doubt the most attractive part about USF, for McCracken, was the prospect of getting to play with his brother again.

“In high school we thought that it was going to be the last time we got to play together,” said the senior outfielder. “Now that we are going to play together in college it means a lot, not only to me, but to my family.”

Another NAIA school in Indiana caught the eye of McCracken, as he noted that Taylor University was a serious target for him. As for his role on the USF Cougars his freshman year, he said that he looks to fill in a rotation since the team will lose a pair of outfielders.

Nathan Temple also signed a letter of intent on Tuesday. Temple, the son of Todd and Anna will also be a three year letterman this season. Temple led Van Wert with 21 RBIs in 2017 and was voted as the Most Valuable Defensive Player in 2018 by his peers.

“When I visited there I really liked the campus which was my number one priority,” said Temple. “I wanted to make sure that where ever I was going, I was going to stay there.”

Temple also visited Bluffton University, but said that Saint Francis really stuck out to him. He plans to study in Exercise Science and Business at USF.

Temple acknowledges that there will competition for playing time wherever he goes and USF is no different. He hopes that he can work his way up the chain and start making a significant impact in a couple of years.