LEMOORE — A bulldog and baseball balloon flanked Jared Holaday as he sat in the event center lobby at Lemoore High School on Tuesday.
It was signing day for the 18-year-old senior and he was going from Tiger to Bulldog with the stroke of a pen. In front of him, a sea of friends and family were all anxiously waiting for him to make it official.
The table he sat at proudly read “Lemoore. Home of the Tigers” and there was a backdrop with the same words. A picture of Fresno State’s Bulldogs logo completed the picture.
Before inking his future, Holaday thanked all his supporters who had gotten him to this point in his career. He pointed out his grandparents who made a long drive, thanked his coach for always helping him and was grateful for all the sacrifices his parents had made.
And with a couple signatures from him and his parents, Holaday had officially committed to play baseball at Fresno State.
The first baseman hugged and shook hands with everyone who turned out after his signing and was ecstatic to say the least.
“All the hard work, all the late nights in the cages or in the gym … all that it just puts into this and it’s awesome,” Holaday said about his big day. “It’s everything I’ve dreamed of since I was little.”
There was pizza and dessert after the joyous occasion, which everyone was happy to delight in. Friends made jokes and congratulated him for his big moment.
One person in the crowd who was particularly happy was third-year Lemoore athletic director Brady Holaday — or dad.
“Exciting. Proud of him,” Brady said as emotion and tears overcame him. “All the hard work and their dreams come true, it’s fun to watch.”
Holaday started with T-ball over 10 years ago and has continued to grow throughout the years. Brady said his emotion came from the bond between him and his son as well as being his coach for a long time.
They traveled during the summer to play in different tournaments and have gone to many different places. The long, arduous recruitment process was not easy, but they reached the end.
“When it’s all said and done and they finally get to achieve that dream, it’s good to see the smile on his face,” Brady said. “It’s very fulfilling to finally reach that goal and to be able to further his education.”
Before settling on Fresno State, Holaday had many discussions with UC San Diego and a couple with Sonoma State. Holaday said it was his travel ball coaches who ended up sparking his interest in Fresno State and after attending a couple of camps, Holaday knew where he wanted to be.
He wound up visiting Sonoma State and Long Beach State, but centered on Fresno State without ever even visiting.
“The first thing coach (Mike) Batesole said to me was the most important thing he was looking for is you graduating,” Holaday said. “He goes, ‘I’m not going to let you play if you don’t have a 3.0 [GPA] or higher.’”
Those words from Batesole, Fresno State’s baseball coach entering his 16th season, spoke volumes to Holaday who said his education is the most important thing to him.
“I want to play baseball as far as I can,” Holaday said. “My goal is to go to the league, but realistically I want to be a teacher.”
He wants to major in education and become a seventh grade math teacher. Currently, he’s a student aid teacher in a seventh grade math class and loves it.
Holaday had an outstanding junior campaign slashing .366/.480/.597 and had nine multi-hit games and a hit in 18 of 26 games. He led his team in RBI (20) and triples (5) and was second on the team in batting average, runs (28), hits (30) and doubles (9).
“Watching this young man grow from his freshman year to now has been an honor,” Lemoore first-year coach Izzy Gonzalez said. “Kid’s work ethic is bar none unbelievable. He’s a great example to these young kids coming in. He’s a great leader to our program.”
This will be Holaday’s third year on the varsity squad and his fourth year playing baseball overall at Lemoore. Last year, the team had an overall record of 9-17 and finished sixth at 5-7 in the West Yosemite League.
“Of course, I’m trying to get a Valley ring this year, that’s the main goal,” Holaday said. “But I want to try and better everyone else on the field. I want to get my person next to me and that person next to him going somewhere to.”