Senior athletes are special

Published 7:32 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One of the things I have enjoyed most about my 41 years as sports editor of this fine newspaper has been covering senior athletes’ decisions about the directions they will take in their future lives.

Friday morning I had the pleasure of covering a pair of fine young men signing in the hospitality room above the Bainbridge High School Gymnasium.

Left-handed pitchers Marty Anderson and Thomas Timmons of Coach Scott Miller’s Bainbridge High School Bearcats baseball team signed documents that will help secure their futures.

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Marty signed a baseball scholarship with the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) Stallions and Thomas signed to enter the United States Marine Corps.

I think Bainbridge High School Principal Tommie Howell put things in perspective when he pointed out that, while they are taking different paths, Marty and Thomas are both accepting leadership roles.

Bearcats Head Coach Miller said he thought it was proper to honor players who will be continuing their baseball career and serving their country.

Anderson, who won the outstanding varsity pitching award last season, hurling 56 innings and recording a low 2.38 earned run average. This season, he has hurled 40.67 innings with a low 2.58 earned run average. Timmons has hurled 16 innings and recorded a low 3.50 earned run average.

Prior to the season, Bearcats senior catcher Drew Kelley signed a baseball scholarship with the Valdosta State University Blazers.

Last season, Kelley won the varsity Gold Glove Award. He threw out 50 percent of opposing runners who attempted to steal a base.

Kelley is continuing his strong defensive play this season, while also being one of the Bearcats’ most potent offensive weapons.

He is batting a hefty .357 with 12 singles, six doubles, one triple, one home run and 16 runs batted in.

I feel honored to have had the opportunity to cover the successful high school baseball careers of Marty, Thomas and Drew, and I wish them nothing but more success in their future lives.

They, along with three other Bearcats senior players and their families, were honored Monday prior to the Bearcats’ game with the Thomasville High School Bulldogs. It was senior night at Bearcats Field.

Honored along with Marty, Thomas and Drew were senior shortstop Ryan Wade, senior center fielder Stephen Lightfoot, and senior second baseman Sutton Reece.

I’ve covered a lot of senior nights during the past 41 years, and they are always special events.