Seven Chattahoochee Valley Community College baseball players signed scholarships on Thursday to go and play at four-year universities.
Pitcher Casey Cobb and outfielder/pitcher Brandon Hill signed with Alabama; Pitcher Cole Ganopulos signed with South Carolina; Pitcher Charles Crosby signed with Samford; Pitcher Kendall Marshall signed with Middle Georgia State; Pitcher Hunter Phillips signed with South Alabama and pitcher Jacob Menders signed with Virginia Military Institute.
Marshall will soon join Middle Georgia State, while Hill will transfer to Alabama in January. The other five have one season remaining with CVCC.
Cobb was the Pirates’ No. 1 pitcher last season. He pitched 90.2 innings, finishing the season with a 10-4 record, 96 strikeouts and a 1.29 ERA.
Cobb said it was a difficult decision to settle on a school, but after interacting with the Crimson Tide coaches, he knew he wanted to stay in the state.
“It’s a dream come true to play in the SEC,” Cobb said. “It’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait.”
Hill, meanwhile, gets the head start to Tuscaloosa. Hill had a wild 2017 season for CVCC, which included a freak injury as a result of a field tarp. He finished the year with a .291 batting average, one home run, 20 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.
Hill was described by CVCC head coach Adam Thomas as possibly the most talented player he’s coached in his 20-year career. Still, Hill said his recruitment didn’t pick up until late because of the injury scare.
While that made the process a bit more stressful, Hill said it made Thursday’s pay-off worthwhile.
“It’s been one of my dreams,” Hill said. “I loved the coaches there, and it’s where I want to be. It was a perfect situation for me, honestly.”
Joining Cobb and Hill in the Southeastern Conference is Ganopulos, who has actually been there before.
Ganopulos started his collegiate career at Auburn before opting to transfer to CVCC. He threw 40.2 innings last season, posting a 6-0 record with 32 strikeouts and a 1.33 ERA.
Ganopulos spoke highly of how Thomas and the other CVCC coaches prepared him to return to the SEC, which Ganopulos said was his ultimate goal.
“It was humbling, honestly. Going to Auburn, I felt like I just settled in and it just didn’t work out,” Ganopulos said. “To come here, really get everything together and develop under coach Thomas and my teammates just really helped. It was a good experience.”
For Thomas, seeing all seven of these players sign was something that admittedly pulled on his heartstrings.
“I’m not a coach — I’m a daddy,” Thomas said. “I’m just as proud and I’m just as emotional seeing this as it does watching my biological son. I may not have created them, but I’ve helped raise them.”
Ganopulos added that as big as this moment was for his career, it meant even more to be surrounded by his teammates.
“These are some of my guys,” Ganopulos said. “We’re really good friends, and it’s just awesome to share this moment with them.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports