THS baseball players sign to play in college
Published 2:57 pm Wednesday, January 27, 2016
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
ALABASTER – Having a chance to play at top-notch facilities with familiar coaches alongside former childhood friends and teammates sealed the deal for Thompson High School baseball players Riley Reach and Jonathan Crawford as they chose their college destination.
The two THS seniors inked scholarships to play at the next level at Southern Union State Community College in Wadley during a Jan. 27 ceremony in the THS library. Dozens of teammates, teachers, administrators, family members and friends packed the standing-room-only library for the signing ceremony.
“I love the coaches, and the facilities and the field are really nice,” Reach said of Southern Union. “It just felt like it was the right place for me.
“I’ve got a few buddies there already, so I’m looking forward to playing alongside them,” Reach said. “It’ll be just like playing now.”
Reach and Crawford are the latest THS products to ink with the Southern Union Bisons, and will join THS graduates Stephan Poplin and Zach Brammer at the college.
“It just feels like home,” Crawford said of Southern Union. “The coach down there coached a lot of us on the travel ball team when we were growing up.”
The two seniors are both standouts on the successful THS baseball squad, which finished runner-up in the 7A state tournament last season. In 2015, Crawford threw out 10 base runners attempting to steal, and Reach stole seven bases and finished the season with a .960 fielding percentage.
“As we kept playing the year, (Crawford) struggled a little bit early throwing the baseball, but as he got more comfortable catching for us, they quit running on him,” said THS varsity baseball coach Pat Hamrick. “Whenever they did, he threw them out. He’s gong to be a heck of a catcher in college.”
Hamrick praised Reach’s enthusiasm, effort and teamwork.
“(Reach) plays with so much energy and the rest of the team feeds off of it,” Hamrick said. “He had a great run last year, and we’re really excited to see what he can do this year.
“It’s taken a commitment from their parents. It takes a community to raise them and it takes a community to get them to the next level,” Hamrick said. “We’re really excited about what they can accomplish at the next level.”