Of those 11 who will don a Chargers’ baseball starting in January 2014, three represent Bartow County and Woodland High School.
Wildcats John Hood, Luke Patterson and Camden McGill were all part of a signing ceremony that took place inside Georgia Highland’s Cartersville-based student center. Each signee rose from a table they were sitting at and then proceeded to the podium where they signed their letter of intent before a throng of coaches, city officials, college officials and parents.
One of those coaches was Woodland head baseball coach Corey Gochee.
“This is a great day for these fine young men, for Georgia Highlands College and for Woodland’s baseball program,” Gochee said.
Indeed it was for Hood, Patterson and McGill, who all saw a dream become a most-welcomed reality.
“It definitely is a dream come true,” said Hood, a 6’ 4”, 205-pound right-handed pitcher, who along with Patterson, his best friend, made their intentions known to coach Mike Marra together about where they wanted to play collegiate baseball. “Playing for Georgia Highlands gives us the chance to be part of sports history here and to be close to home at the same time.”
The duo had looked at other colleges before choosing Georgia Highlands. Patterson, in fact, had already committed to Georgia College in Milledgeville while Hood was all set to continue his baseball career at Southern Polytechnic in Marietta.
That is before they were introduced to Marra and learned what opportunities existed just a few miles up the road in Bartow County.
“There was no guarantee I would see any playing time down there,” said Patterson, a 6’0” right-handed pitcher, who is a 2013 Under Amour Pre-season All-American. “It will be just the opposite at Georgia Highlands. I will have the opportunity to be a front-line starting pitcher here.”
Before all is said and done, Marra expects to recruit and sign more Bartow County-based baseball players in the upcoming months.
“Their signing to play baseball here is a start of something special,” he said. “We know we have a great challenge ahead of us, but we feel we have a great group of young men who are ready to meet that challenge.”
Overall, 24 ballplayers will receive athletic scholarships. Nine of the 11 who signed athletic scholarships Tuesday were among more than 100 hopefuls who attended baseball tryouts conducted by Marra and his staff at Cass High in late October.
One of those in attendance was Hood.
“At first, you are thinking how nice it would be to attend college far away from home,” he said. “Then comes the opportunity to play a sport you love that is close to home and receive an excellent education at the same time. It is a dream that hasn’t fully sunk in yet.”
For McGill, who plays shortstop and second base for Woodland, he was already living the dream.
“How cool is it to be one of three baseball players from Woodland who will be part of the same team next year,” he said. “It feels great to be part of a select group of players and play for Georgia Highlands’ first-ever baseball team.”
As a member of the Georgia College Athletic Association, Georgia Highlands College is a two-year, Division I school that is part of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).