Estes signs to play baseball at Berea

Published 4:26 pm Friday, March 8, 2019

Bell County senior pitcher Dennis “D.J.” Estes Jr. has signed to play baseball with the Berea Mountaineers. Estes signed his letter of intent in the Bell County High School auditorium on Friday afternoon, surrounded by family and friends.

“I’m just so proud of him,” said Estes’ grandmother, Maureen Andres. “He has always been such a wonderful young man. He does things right and never gets in trouble. He’s a great kid and I love him to death. It’s not only his athletic ability that has got him here. He is a very smart young man and works hard in academics as well. It’s wonderful to see it paying off for him.”

Having helped coach his son in t-ball, middle school and travel ball with the help of coach Shane Shackleford, Estes’ father Dennis has enjoyed watching his son grow into the young man he is today.

“We knew really early on that D.J. (Estes) was going to be a great baseball player,” said Estes’ father, Dennis. “He had unreal hand-eye coordination at the age of four. By six, he was playing full games with no errors. By the time he got to nine or 10 years old, he was pitching full games and doing a great job.

“He has grown so much over the years, and it means everything to me. As a parent, you always want what’s best for your children. You want them to have more success than you had and to do better in life than you’ve done. D.J. is well on his way to doing that.”

D.J’s former coach and long-time family friend Shane Shackleford recalls seeing success in Estes at a young age.

“Even when we were coaching him in t-ball, you could see that he was ahead of the other kids. He just understood the game better than other kids his age. D.J. is the whole package. He’s not only a great athlete, he’s a great person and that is directly reflective of how he was raised.

“He comes from a wonderful family, and he was raised right. He’s always been one of those ‘yes, sir’ ‘no, sir’ type of players. D.J. is one of the most coachable kids I have ever had the pleasure of being around, and he is going to go on and do wonderful things. It means a lot to me to see him succeed.”

Estes’ mother Nikki was at a loss for words watching her son sign his letter of intent to Berea.

“I am utterly speechless,” said Nikki. “I am ecstatic, blessed or any other synonym that you could use to express my excitement. It makes you feel like a success as a parent when you see your children going on to bigger and better things. I am proud of the way everyone talks about D.J. Everywhere I go I hear people talking about how well-mannered and smart he is. It really means a lot to our family.

“I am thankful for my husband being such a great influence on our children. I’m so happy to see D.J. going on to do something he loves in playing baseball, but I’m also happy to see him furthering his education. A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to go to college, so for D.J. to have worked so hard and see it paying off for him, means the world to us as a family. We couldn’t be more proud. We love him so much.”

Estes’ older sister, Savana, feels like Berea is the right place for her little brother.

“I’ve watched him grow from this little boy into the young man he is today. He is a great kid, and a wonderful little brother. He works very hard to be successful. I’m happy to see him finding success in something he loves,” said Savanna. “I think Berea is the right place for him, not just athletically, but academically as well. He’s always had that special spark of talent that you see in those special athletes. He’s going on to do bigger and better things.”

Estes feels a sense of accomplishment after signing with the Mountaineers.

“I’ve been working hard for a long time now,” said Estes. “I feel accomplished by signing to college; all of my hard work has paid off. I still have my senior season to go, so I’m not looking too far ahead of me right now. My goal is to win the district tournament this year and make it to the regional tournament. That would be the best way to wrap up my final season of high school baseball.

“It’s also nice to know that after this season, my baseball career isn’t over. I get to keep playing the game I love at the next level. I wouldn’t be where I am right now without all of my family, friends and coaches. Without them, none of this is possible.”

While in college, Estes plans on pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering for three years at Berea. He then plans on finishing his degree at the University of Kentucky.