Gray makes it official with FSU Bulldogs
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South baseball player Murf Gray officially signs his National Letter of Intent to play next season at Fresno State during a signing ceremony on Dec. 3.
What has been known for several months, Madera South baseball player Murf Gray made it official by signing his National Letter of Intent to play at Fresno State next year.
“I’m more comfortable,” he said. “It’s a lot of pressure and weight off my shoulders.”
Gray and Madera South held a signing ceremony to announce his intentions to Fresno State. He had many friends and family members attend in the Madera South gym.
“It was pretty cool to have my friends and family there,” he said. “As a kid, I really didn’t expect to come this far. Just to be able to sign that paper and go Div. I is really special.”
A lot of big-time expectations were placed on Gray’s shoulders from a young age. He made every All-Star team while playing Little League and kept progressing through the baseball ranks while leading the Stallions to the No. 1 seed in last year’s Div. IV playoffs.
“It feels great to fulfill those high expectations,” Gray said. “The job still isn’t done. There’s a lot of work at Madera South. Even when I get there (Fresno State), it’s still not done. I’m not going in there expecting to start. I’m going to have to grind for my playing time.”
Gray was also named The Madera Tribune’s Baseball Most Valuable Player for the 2020 season.
Gray knows there is still work to do after getting ousted in the playoffs last year in the first round.
“Last year, we came up short in the playoffs,” he said. “There was a lot of weight and pressure put on myself and not anybody else. I think this year is going to be different. The weight is off and I signed my papers. I can play more freely. I know my team counts on me even though they don’t say it.”
After last year’s playoff exit, Gray knows the high expectations of this season.
“There’s more motivation this year,” he said. “We just finished our Purple-Black series. Just seeing the competitiveness from that compared to last year, this year is going to be way different.”
Gray also knows with him playing his best will bring scouts to his game and that might give his teammates a path to keep playing.
“Me playing my best brings people and coaches to our games,” he said. “For the other players, it’s no pressure because they think they are coming out for me. In reality, they are focused on everyone around me. Xavier Cantu has been grinding with me. I think he’s going to do some big things. It will be great to see some of these guys to sign college scholarships. It’s something Coach Mike Molina would really want. He raised us and built us into the players we are. It would be really special for him.”
Gray, who carries a 3.4 grade point average, chose Fresno State for a number of reasons, including location. He is thinking about kiniesieology to become a physical therapist or in business for sports marketing.
“Location wasn’t specifically a reason I signed, but it’s one of the reasons,” he said. “They were my first offer. I decided to take it. It’s close to home. I can wash clothes at the house and get a good meal. My parents never miss a game.”
Although he is one of the more dominant pitchers in the Central Section, Gray plans to play shortstop at Fresno State and hit.
“I want to hit,” he said. “My pitching skills are decent, but I don’t see myself pitching too much.”
Gray also may be an MLB draft prospect in the June Amateur Draft, but doesn’t think that’s the route for him just yet.
“I’ve thought about it, but my mom really wants me to go to school,” he said. “I’m thinking about it on the side.”
Gray is also determined to be a positive role model for his younger brothers just like his older brothers were to him.
“I want to show them anything is possible,” he said. “As long as they grind and put the hard work in, they can do anything. Every brother has to do something to keep up with each other.”
Gray also points out to Molina as one of the biggest influences on his baseball career. Molina, who passed away in 2020, was the founder of South County Colts, a travel baseball team that Gray played on for years.
“I wish he was here. He pushed me every practice. He believed in me. I was a real big crier in the game. He was the one that challenged me to get over that. I started playing with Mike when I was 5 or 6. I was playing up with my brother. Him pushing me until I was 14 is a big part of my success.”