Madera South star makes commitment to FSU
For The Madera Tribune
When Madera South baseball standout Murf Gray was given the opportunity, he didn’t give it a second thought. When Fresno State baseball gave him a scholarship offer, he took it immediately and felt that’s where he was meant to be.
“It was very cool,” he said. “I passed by Beiden Field to get something to eat over there. I grew up around there. My mom went there. The environment they have, what they told me about and how they came at me. I felt they wanted me more than anybody else. I felt the environment was going to be perfect.”
Gray fielded offers from Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara, San Jose State and Loyola Marymount, but Fresno State was the top school on his list.
“During our little Zoom meeting, I tried to keep a straight face,” he said. “But, my mom looked at me and knew that was the place I wanted to be. In my head, I thought this was great. It was local and a place I wanted to be. That made my decision.”
Gray was kind of surprised about the attention he received from Fresno State. He actually wasn’t thinking about college until this summer.
“It was a surprise to commit,” he said. “They said they have been watching me since I was young. It was a surprise they have been watching me. They knew me and my background. It was cool. It was a big compliment. I was just playing. I didn’t know anyone had eyes on me. To know they had eyes on me for so long made me happy.”
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has struck, Gray has been working out with his travel team while following guidelines.
“I played with a local team and we’ve been around it, even with COVID happening,” he said. “We traveled and every game we played in was played with social distancing and everyone with a mask on. When we got on first, we put our mask on.”
Gray, who has been an All-Star at Madera American Little League since he was 8, has had superstar over his head ever since.
“I really don’t feel too pressured,” he said. “I take every game as something normal. I have always performed at a high level. I have been in many places with different teams playing in good showcases so I never feel pressure anymore.”
Gray said that it will be his decision what position he wants to play at Fresno State. He would like to play shortstop and then help out on the mound.
“They said it would be my choice,” he said. “It would be a free option for me. That’s my choice to play the field and, if they need me, pitch, for sure.”
Now that Gray has made his commitment, he can now concentrate on getting the Stallions into the playoffs and, hopefully, win a Central Section championship.
“It’s a lot of stress lifted off my shoulders,” he said. “Every week, I was calling different coaches and hearing different things. Now that I have the one school committed, I can focus more on getting bigger, faster and stronger and performing better so when I get there, I’m performing at a high level.”
Gray has also been keeping track of some of the players who played before him that are excelling in professional baseball like Connor Brogdon, Alec Gamboa and J.J. Santa Cruz, all pitchers in the minors except for Brogdon, who made his Major League debut last week.
“They have set up a good path for me,” Gray said. “Now that I know people from around have made it somewhere, gives me a sense of hope that I can be like them, go on and get drafted and play in the minors. The ultimate goal is to hit the majors.”
Gray was upset about getting his sophomore season canceled after just nine games.
“It was real tough to finish out the year,” he said. “It was my sophomore season and I know a lot of eyes were going to be on me. Summer was going to be set up with the travel team I was playing for. We going to hit a lot of showcases and do some very important stuff in front of scouts. It was a minor setback. It worked out in the end. That was supposed to be our season. We were so young last year. Everyone matured getting some time on varsity. We all grew as players. We were ready to handle the CMAC, go far in the playoffs and, hopefully win Valley.”
What also helps Gray is the chemistry he has achieved with his Stallions’ teammates whom he has played with on many All-Star and travel teams.
“It feels great to play with so many teammates on my travel team (South County Colts),” he said. “I know them, they know me. We’re all really good friends. We can do anything together. The bond we made with travel and All-Stars is amazing.”
Now, all that’s left for Gray is to do for college is sign his National Letter of Intent.
“I’m hoping to get bigger, faster and stronger before I can sign that paper so I can look the part,” he said. “Right now, I just look big. If I look the part when I put pen on paper, it’s going to be scary for people. I’m 6’2”, 195 pounds. I’ve been drinking protein shakes, eating chicken, pasta and rice. I’m just trying to get big. I know the strength and conditioning program is tough and I know I can tough it out.”