Columbus East baseball coach Jon Gratz knew from the time they entered the program that three of this year’s seniors had aspirations beyond high school baseball.

Those three seniors — Jon Crawford, Jonathan Foster and Luke Hostetler — committed recently to college baseball programs. They participated in a signing ceremony Wednesday afternoon in the school’s commons.

“You could tell early on, they were guys that wanted to play at the next level,” Gratz said. “When they first came in as freshmen, you could tell just by their work ethic and their attitude on the baseball field, they were going to eventually move on.”

Crawford will play at the University of Indianapolis. The pitcher-outfielder is 2-1 with a 2.39 ERA and is batting .312 with eight RBIs and a team-high seven doubles.

He said he’s wanted to play college baseball since watching other Olympians in signing ceremonies.

“It just felt like home,” Crawford said. “I was visiting a couple different places, and they didn’t really get me excited like Indianapolis did.”

Foster is headed to Taylor University. The center fielder/pitcher is batting .371 with a team-high 13 runs scored.

Foster, who is considering majoring in business administration or business finance, didn’t apply to any other school.

“My sophomore year, my summer team played in a tournament at Taylor, and I really liked the atmosphere,” Foster said. “I really enjoyed the field, I really enjoyed the coach. After that, I kind of had my eyes set on Taylor for awhile.”

Hostetler will play at Jackson College, a junior college in Jackson County, Michigan. The first baseman leads East with a .417 batting average and 13 RBIs.

Hostetler will major in exercise science. He plans to go for two years, then transfer to a bigger school.

“Jackson is a pretty new campus, so I really liked that,” Hostetler said. “The environment there, I love. I met some of the guys on the team, and they’re very nice, very good athletes and they have a very good baseball program.”

The trio have led the Olympians to an 8-3 record so far this season.

“All three of those guys challenge themselves in the classroom,” Gratz said. “They all have super-high grades. They do the right things on and off the field, and that’s how you get a chance to play at the next level.”

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.