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Coe's Stein Has Pro Baseball Aspirations

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa Nick Stein will earn his degree this spring in athletic training, but the soon-to-be Coe College graduate is in no hurry to use it.

He's got other things on his mind. Such as a professional baseball career.

"Every little kid's dream, MLB," Stein said, after Coe knocked off Loras, 6-3, Thursday afternoon in the Iowa Conference baseball tournament at Veterans Memorial Stadium. "But it's one step at a time. I'll take whatever opportunity comes to me, and whatever happens, happens. I'm going to do everything I can to play a sport I love."

Not many kids from the NCAA Division III level get pro opportunities, though Stein only has to look as far as his own dugout to see it does happen. Coe Coach Steve Cook played two years in the Los Angeles Angels farm system after an all-American career at D-III Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, including the 1994 season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

"To be honest, he is more multi-tooled than I was," Cook said of his center fielder. "He's pretty good, and what makes him good is that he has multiple tools. He can defend in center field, he's got a good arm. Offensively, he has some pop, but can also drop down a bunt and run."

Stein, a 5-foot-10, 175-pounder righty, led the Iowa Conference in the regular season with eight home runs and 19 stolen bases, hitting .363. He owns a ton of school season and career records, under recruited as a one-year player at powerhouse Horizon High School in Scottsdale, Ariz.

That's how he ended up at Coe, not feeling the junior-college route was for him. There are no D-II or III schools in Arizona.

"You can always say 'What if,' but I never regret my decision," Stein said. "I was able to be something here, you know?"

Stein said he has talked to a scout from the New York Mets, but it's unrealistic to think he'll get taken in the Major League Baseball amateur draft next month. Especially since it has been cut from 50 to 40 rounds.

If he doesn't get an immediate sniff from a big-league club, he always knows what he's going to do.

"Hopefully playing independent ball and working from there," he said.

Second-seeded (27-12) rallied from a 3-2 deficit in the middle innings to advance in the winner's bracket of this double-elimination tournament. The Kohawks play again today at 1 against either top-seeded Wartburg or fifth-seeded Simpson.

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