It should be no surprise that a similar situation is waiting for him at Hiwassee College, in Madisonville, Tenn., about two hours from his Bartow County home and the place where he has just signed a scholarship to continue his baseball career.
“Madisonville has a real small town environment,” Martin said. “It’s kind of like Adairsville, where everyone is on a first-name basis.”
Martin said the private college is a great match for his baseball skills, offering a good coach — Shane Gardner — and a brand of ball he likes: “Once I went there, I liked the school and coach. From then on, I wanted to go there.”
Something Martin also likes is the fact Hiwassee sports the same Tiger mascot he grew up with. “It’s what I’ve always been.”
He said it is a good opportunity for him to take his game to the next level.
The former Adairsville player said he is unsure what position he will play at Hiwassee but added he doesn’t care “as long as I get to play.”
He played first base and as designated hitter at Adairsville.
Martin also enjoyed his time as a Tiger, particularly his senior year, when his playing time increased and the team moved deeper into state playoffs.
“I’ve been in baseball since age 3,” he recalled, adding he spent a lot of years playing ball on Bartow County Recreation Department teams and, later, on Adairsville’s JV team. During his early years he played second and third some, too.
While those baseball years were fun, Martin said, they were nothing like the state baseball playoffs his Tigers participated in last spring, something he is proud to have been a part of.
“It was a totally different environment,” he said. “We were seeing different kinds of pitching. You could feel the intensity in the state playoffs.”
Martin got his introduction to the playoffs courtesy of Manchester, whom the Tigers defeated in their opening series, and he left his mark on a special memory there.
“I hit a 3-run home run,” he said. “That’s something special. It felt good.”
Martin even recalled the pitch: “It was a middle-in fast ball.”
The Tiger said it was a mistake offered up by the Manchester pitcher: “That’s one place people don’t pitch to me often. I usually get pitches that are up and over.”
Martin said his hitting had improved his senior year with the Tigers and credited Chad Parker, his hitting instructor at Advance Sports Academy, as a big part of the reason:
“He got my swing where it is today. I’ve been working with Chad since my junior year. I’m more of a power hitter now because of his work.”
Parker said Hiwassee is getting a great addition: “Ta-Li is an exceptionally hard worker.
“He has a great physique ... and needed to get his body in the right position to take advantage of that physique. I think his best baseball is ahead of him. He’s the just cracking the surface of his potential.”
The coach said Martin’s hard work also improved his ability as a player:
“He’s also been working hard on his speed and agility, which has made him a lot better athlete.”
Martin said he will be pursuing a career in law enforcement at Hiwassee.
“It’s a kind of win/win situation for me,” he said. “I’m going to get my education, but if it goes further [in baseball] then that’s great, too.”