You could say it was the hardest decision Blake Harrell had to make.
Before his senior year at Hebron Christian School, Harrell decided to transfer to Stakville High School with the hopes of getting looked at a little more by collegiate scouts.
The gamble paid off because Tuesday Harrell did what few get a chance to do and signed a scholarship to play baseball at St. Claire Community College (Michigan).
â€śI wanted the chance to play against better competition, to get ready for the next level,â€ť he said.
The Yellow-jackets had a tough schedule last season, going toe-to-toe with the likes of Pearl, New Hope, Tupelo and Meridian. â€śI just wanted to get better to prepare myself for college.â€ť
Harrell suited up for 17 games last season, batting just .229 with nine RBI, but it wasnâ€™t in a Starkville uniform where Harrell started to attract attention. For the last two seasons, Harrell has been playing for the Mississippi Prospects, a select travel team based out of Mathiston.
â€śPeople told me that would get more attention going to a bigger school, but not as much as during the summer,â€ť Harrell explained.
The Prospects, under the guidance of Josh Buford who is also a scout for the Atlanta Braves, traveled across the state before heading to Atlanta for the National Championship Tournament. This is where kids get a chance to shine in front of college coaches and scouts.
â€śWe are very excited to sign such a talented baseball player and student to our school,â€ť Skippers head coach Mike Greene said via email. â€śBlake is a hard working, talented individual and we are looking forward to great things from him.â€ť
Greene, a former assistant with Mississippi Valley State University, coached Harrell last summer with the Prospects and knew he had the talent to play at the next level.
â€śIf Blake continues to work at baseball and school he will have another signing to a four year school or a major league contract in a couple years.â€ť
Harrell said he had two offers from Mississippi schools who wanted him to be primarily a pitcher rather than a position player. The Skippers in Port Huron, wanted to utilize all of his talents. Although he plays the infield and throws on a regular basis, it wasnâ€™t until this summer that coaches decided to move him to the outfield because of his speed. Now the position is kind of growing on him. Harrell says itâ€™s opportunity he couldnâ€™t pass up, even though its almost 900 miles from home.
â€śI think itâ€™ll be good for me to just go off and learn some stuff on my own,â€ť he said. â€śI just want to go out and explore.â€ť Harrell wonâ€™t feel too far from home, with the addition of several players from all across the south expected to sign for the Skippers this spring.
Former Hebron head coach Sam Pearson was also very happy to have one of his former players move on up in the baseball world.
â€śI am excited to hear the great news of Blake getting the chance to play college baseball,â€ť he said. â€śHe deserves to see his dreams come true and I am so proud of him.â€ť
Pearson said that Harrell was always a natural athlete, but the baseball diamond is where he stood out from all the rest. â€śHe has a natural Â feel for the game and has always exhibited maturity beyond his years. His attitude is that of a champion -his heart that of a lion.â€ť
Friends and family might get a chance to see him play early on in the season. Because the weather is a lot colder in Michigan in February, itâ€™s not uncommon for teams to play on the road in warmer climates for the first month of the season. Last year, the Skippers were in North Carolina and Florida. The Harrellâ€™s are already making plans once the schedule gets released.
â€śWeâ€™re working on that now,â€ť he said. â€śI think theyâ€™ll be able to make a few games.â€ťView more articles in: