Just a few years ago, Bryce Travis was just an average high school pitcher.

He was reaching the low 80s with his fastball, but didn't really have a great assortment of pitches or outstanding control.

"I was throwing hard, but I wasn't unique in any way," Travis said. "I was like everyone else."

Travis, however, was determined to set himself apart from everyone else.

The Madison Central pitcher added several pitches to his repertoire and also increased his velocity.

"I got up to about 88 or 89 and then my offspeed really started to kick in and really being effective," Travis said.

The left-hander quickly developed into the one of the best pitchers in the 11th Region.

On Wednesday, Travis signed a national letter of intent to play baseball at Eastern Kentucky University.

He will join former teammates Central Jacob Ferris and Logan Thomason at EKU.

"It's fun for local guys to get to play in front of the hometown fans," Madison Central coach Steve Roof said. "There's a lot of pride. They grow up as Colonels and they get to live that dream."

Ferris is the fifth Central player to sign with EKU in the past 14 years -- Ferris and Thomason (2018), Ben Fisher (2013), Dylan McMaine (2005)

"I'm very excited. They are both really good players," Travis said of Thomason and Ferris. "I can't wait to get on campus. They will be upperclassmen then, so they can teach me the ropes."

Thomason, Ferris and Travis helped lead Central to 30-8 record and the 11th Region title in 2018.

That was the season that Travis started to emerge as a big-time performer.

The left-hander was 7-1 with 71 strikeouts in 49 innings pitched and had a 1.28 ERA as a sophomore.

"I can't point to one particularly game or moment," Roof said of Travis' development. "It just kind of clicked," Roof said.

The progression continued during his junior season.

In 2019, Travis was 6-1 with a 39 strikeouts in 30.2 innings.

His career ERA is a 1.66 heading into his senior seaosn.

"He's a hard worker and he's earned it," Roof said. "He's a great leader. That is what (EKU) coach (Edwin) Thompson liked about him. He's always very encouraging and positive."

Travis was drawing interest from other in-state schools and was seriously considered enrolling in a junior college in Florida.

In the end, EKU was the place for the senior to pursue his athletic and academic goals. Travis wants to study dentistry.

"It feels like home, because it is home," Travis said of EKU. "It just feels like everything is right."

Central players have had a great deal of success at EKU in recent years.

Fisher earned All-American honors, was named the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year and was drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 21st round two years ago.

Last season, Thomason and Ferris were named to the OVC All-Freshman Team.

"I think EKU bringing in local kids is a good idea," Travis said. "It's a tradition that we can carry on if we keep sending them good players. I hope to live up to those standards."

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