“Cade got kind of thrown to the wolves at a young age, and I think that helped him a lot, too,” Blanchard said. “It makes you a competitor.”
By the end of Bradley’s senior season, not only was he the leader of the Bulldogs, he was also “fearless.” He is also The Anniston Star’s Calhoun County Class 3A player of the year.
“He doesn’t really sweat anything, and the last few years, he’s turned into one of the best shortstops that I’ve ever seen,” Blanchard said.
Mike Burns, the coach at Calhoun Community College in Decatur, signed Bradley early this spring, yet Blanchard said a lot of bigger schools missed out.
“Alabama and Troy were talking to me about him, and he went to the East-West All-Star Game and a lot of coaches liked what he did, but when you’re coming from a small school they kind of get off of you later in the year,” he said. “There are going to be a lot of people that are going to regret not taking Cade Bradley.”
Bradley did it all for Piedmont this past season, leading the team to the quarterfinals of the Class 3A playoffs after also playing a vital role for the state runner-up team in 2012. In 2013, he led the team with a .461 batting average with 53 hits, 48 runs, 29 RBIs and six home runs.
“I talked to Mike Burns at the East-West All-Star Game and he said he wasn’t going to sign any shortstop except Cade. … I bet when he’s done at Calhoun in two years you’ll see him going to Auburn or somewhere like that,” Blanchard said.
Bradley also served as Piedmont’s ace pitcher, earning eight wins in 14 games while holding a team-best 2.81 ERA. He also struck out a team-high 55 batters over 67 1/3 innings.
For now, Bradley simply is spending the summer trying to get better.
“I’m really excited about getting to continue to play baseball,” he said. “I’m playing travel ball with a team from Hokes Bluff that includes people from all around. I’ll probably be playing around 45 games this summer.”
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star