In the midst of a standout senior season for the undefeated Hays High baseball team, Palmer Hutchison finalized his college plans on Monday, signing with Kansas City Kansas Community College.

Hutchison, a standout senior infielder and pitcher, was a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference selection last year as a junior and has played a key role in the Indians’ 11-0 start to this season.

Hutchison said family ties and a familiarity with the program played a factor in his decision to sign KCKCC.

“Both of my uncles went there,” Hutchison said. “I have family there. I just like being in that atmosphere, and the coaching staff, they were really welcoming to me.”

Hutchison said he will look to use his time with the Blue Devils as a stepping stone to a Division I opportunity.

“The goal for all athletes, and me included, would be go to D-I; that’s what you want,” Hutchison said. “I think juco was the right step for me, trying to take my talents and improving them and hone them a little bit and see where I can go after that.”

Longtime Hays High coach Frank Leo said Hutchison has been an integral player for the Indians throughout his career.

“He’s brought a lot to the table,” Leo said. “He plays with a lot of intensity, really focused, very competitive — all the intangibles and very good qualities that bring a lot to the team.”

One of Hutchison’s strengths is his defensive ability at third base and shortstop, turning in several highlight-reel plays throughout the first half of the season.

“He’s always been very solid at third base or shortstop,” Leo said. “We’ve seen him make some fantastic plays — from his knees throwing to first, on his back throwing to first. He’s very accurate and has a strong arm. He also has a good pair of hands.”

“Lately, I’ve become a better defensive third baseman,” Hutchison said. “I take pride in being good at defense. Errors always look pretty bad on your name and never make you feel good. I take pride in defense and make the routine (plays), and if I have a chance to make a spectacular play, I definitely go for it.”

Hutchison also enjoyed a standout senior season on the football field, earning All-WAC honors at quarterback, but he said baseball is his first love.

“I’d say baseball has always kind of been my sport, following up in my and brother’s footsteps as a player,” said Hutchison, who is headed to Kansas City Community College for baseball next year.

He will look to build momentum heading into his college career by finishing his senior season on a high note.

“Just trying to finish my career as an Indian off strong,” Hutchison said. “My last year as a football player, I enjoyed it. Now I’m playing baseball and getting ready for the future and seeing where that will take me.”