Columbus North freshman Austin Bode is currently at JetBlue Park in Miami, Florida, participating in the Perfect Game Baseball Festival. But first, he announced an important lifetime decision before leaving.

The festival invites only the nation’s top 40 players, and Bode said half of them most likely have already made their college commitments. Bode was added to that list after deciding Tuesday night to verbally commit to the University of Louisville.

Bode still is waiting for his high school debut, but that didn’t stop him from already knowing which direction he wanted to take his post-high school baseball career.

“I just think it was the right decision for me right now at the time,” Bode said. “The program is the top of the line, and hopefully, it will get me to where I want to go in life.”

Bode, at just 14 years old, already was a hot commodity as a catcher for collegiate programs to pursue and has attracted a lot of interest in the last four months. He’s been on five official visits and received offers from Louisville, Purdue and Indiana University. He also received letters from Arizona, Arizona State and Western Kentucky.

Having three Columbus players — North junior Parker Maddox and sophomore Casper Clark and Columbus East junior Julian Greenwell — already committed to IU made it hard for Bode to choose between becoming a Hoosier or a Cardinal. He ultimately felt that Louisville was where he belonged.

“It would be cool to play with them (at IU), but I had to make the decision that was right for me, and that’s what I thought the decision should be,” Bode said.

Bode’s father Max said Austin’s commitment was all his decision, but Austin consulted with his parents many times during the process. Austin set down with his parents as they helped him weigh the pros and cons of each program, and he did some praying, also.

Austin Bode speaks highly of Louisville’s baseball program, and the team’s back-to-back super regional appearances helped sway him towards a Cardinals uniform.

“It’s a top-of-the-line program,” he said. “The success that they’ve had being in super regional and Omaha, it’s a good environment there … and the developmental side of it, too. The coaching staff that they have there, there is no one better. They’ve had a lot of success and (coach Dan McDonnell) is the highest paid coach in the NCAA, so he knows what he’s doing.”

Austin Bode also spent time talking to North graduate Devin Mann, who is beginning his junior season at Louisville. Bode said Mann was able to give him the ins and outs of what goes on in the program through a player’s perspective, and Bode wants to be a part of it.

Making his verbal commitment as such a young age takes the pressure off thinking about where he will play next as he starts his high school journey.

“That’s one of the major reasons why I made a decision so early — not having to worry about where I’m going to go,” he said. “The work begins now. To kind of buy into the program even before I play a high school game is just a good thing to do.”

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Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.