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Bradshaw set to join Oral Roberts

Chris Bradshaw always told himself that should the opportunity arise to join a Division I baseball program, he wouldn't hesitate to grasp it.

Such a game plan proved fitting recently when Oral Roberts University came calling.

The Golden Eagles had a roster spot and a partial scholarship available for him, with the only catch being that Bradshaw had to quickly make a decision since school starts on Aug. 11 at the Tulsa, Okla., institution.

The former North Medford High standout's only hesitation involved planned visits at other colleges and not wanting to disappoint them by canceling, but such good manners certainly weren't enough to forego an opportunity at ORU.

"It was a big decision but I feel good about it," Bradshaw said Wednesday. "It'll be a lot of fun, I'm looking forward to it."

The prospect of joining Oral Roberts was set in motion prior to his sophomore campaign at Santa Rosa Junior College by Bear Cubs head coach Damon Neidlinger. Golden Eagle coaches saw Bradshaw play a few games at third base for Neidlinger, who also put in a good word for the 20-year-old utility player.

Bradshaw has two years of eligibility remaining to play for ORU, as well as a redshirt year that he doesn't plan on needing. He was a first-team all-state second baseman for the Black Tornado during his senior season in 2009, and has mostly been used in the outfield the past two summers with the Southern Oregon RiverDawgs.

"They mostly talked to me about second base and third base and possibly winning a spot there," Bradshaw, who stands 6-foot and 190 pounds, said of ORU's plans for him. "Of course they're having other guys come in and you're going to have to work for your spot, but I could play anywhere pretty much. I feel comfortable everywhere."

Oral Roberts earned its second straight Summit League title this past spring, going 21-7 in conference and 39-22 overall with a veteran lineup. The Golden Eagles advanced to the NCAA regionals in 2010 and super regionals in 2006. Their only appearance in the College World Series came in 1978.

Bradshaw said he has not visited the campus in Tulsa, but has an aunt and uncle who live nearby and have assured him he'll be happy with his new home.

"I've looked it up online and stuff," he said. "It's a great program, with a pretty nice baseball field and a really nice indoor practice facility (opened in 2009)."

"I'm going to have to work really hard for any playing time," Bradshaw added, "but I love challenges and that's pretty much what I play baseball for, to work for a spot and get to play for an elite baseball team like that."

To help keep him in the swing of things, Bradshaw has been a mainstay in the leadoff spot this season for the RiverDawgs' amateur baseball team. He's played in 31 of the team's 38 games entering tonight's home tilt with the Humboldt Steelheads and his .314 batting average trails only Ryan Hayden (.326) on the team. Bradshaw has also scored 17 runs to go with 13 RBIs, four doubles, 11 walks and only nine strikeouts.

The three-game series with the Steelheads, which concludes with a doubleheader Friday at Harry & David Field, is nonleague competition but a good primer as Southern Oregon (18-20, 10-12 FWL) looks to lock up a Far West League playoff spot next weekend at the Nevada Bullets.

"We're on the bubble right now but we'll see what happens," said Bradshaw, who has played some third base recently for the Dawgs. "We're going to have to grunt out some wins if we're going to get there."

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, facebook.com/krishenryMT or twitter.com/Kris_Henry

Southern Oregon RiverDawgs Chris Bradshaw has signed with Division 1 Oral Roberts. - Larry Stauth