Badger graduate Marcus Heath knew he had Division I baseball in him even back in his days as a Brave. However, it took a few stops for him to finally find home - which just happened to be 20 miles away.
Heath, a native of Burghill, was a standout player for Badger. He finished his high school career with 25 home runs and a sizzling .550 batting average. He ranked 14th on the Buckeye Scout's Top 100 Seniors list in 2009. That's only the beginning.
Heath also played soccer, basketball and golf throughout his four years at Badger. By the time he graduated in 2009, he had earned 13 varsity letters - four in baseball, four in golf, three in basketball and two in soccer. He was named All-County and All-Conference in basketball, All-Conference, All-District, and All-Ohio in soccer, and All-NAC in golf his senior year. On top of the long list of athletic accomplishments, he posted a perfect 4.0 GPA as a senior.
YSU's Marcus Heath
"I enjoyed basketball, I enjoyed soccer, had a lot of success in golf too, but at the end of the day baseball is what I always wanted to do," Heath said.
His performance and passion resulted in offers from various MAC and Athletic 10 schools for baseball. He chose to accept a scholarship to Cincinnati in 2010. The 6-foot, 200-pounder ended up redshirting for the Bearcats his freshman season.
"I thought Cincinnati was the right place for me but at the end of the day it wasn't," Heath said.'
College corner: Marcus Heath
Alma Mater: Badger, 2009
Major: Criminal justice
Position: First base/outfield
The skinny:?Named Horizon League Hitter of the Week ... Currently averaging .248 at the plate and has 24 RBIs ... Leads the Penguins with four home runs this season ... During his redshirt freshman year at Sinclair Community College was named the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
After redshirting, he went on to play ball at Sinclair Community College in Dayton. Heath quickly became a stud under coach Steve Dintaman.
"We figured the junior college route was the best route to go," Heath said. "I had a lot of success at Sinclair with coach Dintaman and all those guys."
It was easy to see that Heath made the right decision. Heath put together a .430 batting average while hitting nine home runs and drove in 58 RBIs as a member of the Tartan Pride during the 2011 season. Some of his best baseball memories and achievements took place at Sinclair.
"Being an All-American at Sinclair was a great honor and being the Conference Player of the Year there too was also a nice moment," he said.
After major success at Sinclair, he was determined to go back to playing D-I baseball. It was a journey, but Heath found home back at home. He came back to where it all started.
"Youngstown (State) called and offered and I thought it was a great opportunity to play around home so my family and friends could be there," Heath said.
In 2012, Heath started 52 games for the Penguins. He drove in 27 runs and hit three home runs as a sophomore. He spent most of his time playing right field. However, with the departure of first baseman Jeremy Banks in 2012, Heath is now back to playing on the infield in 2013.
"It's been a while since he has been on the infield," first-year coach Steve Gillispie said. "From day one he's been taking a lot of extra ground balls and working hard at it."
Heath played third base during his time at Sinclair so that has made for a relatively easy transition back to a corner infield spot.
Offensively, Heath is off to a hot start in 2013. He already has 24 RBIs in 29 games into his junior season. He leads the team with four home runs, already one more than he had all of last year.
"He's had some really big hits for us," Gillispie said. "He's really tried to improve his game and be a more productive guy in the middle of the order."
Heath had highs and lows in 2012 while he was making adjustments to the Division-I game. This year, he is more confident at the plate but a new approach has him seeing positive results.
"The coaches want us to stick with an opposite field approach and I think that has helped me have some success at the plate this year," said Heath.
By simplifying the swing, he has served as an excellent clean-up hitter thus far behind his fellow teammate Drew Dosch.
On April 1, Heath was named the Horizon League Hitter of the Week for the period ending on March 31. During that week in late March, Heath was back in Dayton, where he scorched two home runs in the series finale at Wright State. Heath had an onbase percentage of .600 throughout the 3-game set and helped the Penguins win the series 2-1.
"He's a strong kid and when he gets his arms extended he can really put a charge in the ball," Gillispie said.
Now finding his home so close to home, the journey is now just beginning for Heath.