If you don’t know anything about Brylie Ware, you have to question the numbers.
Neosho County baseball coach Steve Murry understands this as well as anyone.
“They don’t look real,” Murry said. “They’re stupid numbers. Video game numbers. But they’re very real.”
To wit – Ware, a 5-foot-11, 210-pound freshman third baseman, leads the NJCAA in almost every major statistical category.
The Sedgwick product is first in batting average (.577), hits (82), RBIs (88), runs (81), doubles (19), total bases (163), on-base percentage (.663) and slugging percentage (1.148).
He is second in the nation with 18 home runs, trailing only Hutchinson’s Chase Doga, who has hit a school-record 20 homers.
“He’s not getting many junk hits, many bleeders,” Murry said. “He has such tremendous hand-eye coordination, to a level I don’t think we even anticipated.”
All that, and plus Neosho (35-6, 18-6 Jayhawk) is in first place in the Jayhawk East headed into Thursday’s doubleheader against Fort Scott.
“I didn’t anticipate this at all … I just came in with the mindset that it’s the same game it’s always been, it’s the same game I’ve always played,” Ware said. “And I’ve been sharp all year. (Murry) has been amazing and I’ve really developed a relationship with him and my teammates, and we’ve had a lot of success so far.”
No one more than Ware, who finished his high-school career with a state record .631 batting average, including an eye-popping .706 average as a junior.
His only Division I offer out of high school came from Kansas State, and came two weeks before school started.
“It was just too close to when I was going to move (to Chanute),” Ware said.
Kansas State’s offer is still on the table. Arkansas has also shown interest. Wichita State coaches told Ware they’d be in touch, but he never heard back from the Shockers.
He could also go pro – after this season or next – if he stays at Neosho. Going Division I would make it so he’s not draft-eligible until 2018.
Ware can look to Neosho’s recent past and see how both paths play out – he will likely be the third consecutive third baseman to earn All-American honors for Murry following Houston Astros minor leaguer Connor Goedert in 2014 and South Carolina’s Jonah Bride last season.
“If everything works out, it’s always been my dream to be a professional baseball player,” Ware said. “That’s been my dream from the time I was a little kid, so when the time the opportunity comes I think I’ll be ready.”
That speaks to a particular point made by Murry when trying to explain Ware’s success – and those stupid numbers.
“One thing I really admire about Brylie is that he’s unafraid to fail,” Murry said. “If he fails, so be it. He’s hard on himself, when it comes to defense or hitting, but he gets right back at it.
“I’m not resigned to him going Division I after this year, not at all. If that’s what he wants to do, I’ll shake his hand and wish him the best of luck. If he wants to stay here, he knows I’ll put in the time to help him work on what he needs to improve.”