Brad Freeman (left) and Ryan Pressley are joined by family and coaches as they sign letters of intent to play baseball for Middle Georgia.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Even though their final baseball season has yet to begin, a trio of local players have decided where they will play their college baseball.
Ryan Pressley and Brad Freeman of Evans and Lakeside's Chris Banker all signed National Junior College Letters of Intent at ceremonies this past Tuesday.
The three players join Greenbrier's Brad Ramsbotham, who signed with USC Aiken in November, as county athletes who will play their senior years without wondering what school they will attend. Pressley and Freeman signed with Middle Georgia College, while Banker inked with Chattahoochee Valley Community College.
"It takes a lot of the pressure off me," said Banker, who signed with the Pirates out of Phenix City, Ala. "I can just worry about the team and not have to deal with trying to get good stats to impress colleges."
Banker has been the Panthers' catcher for three seasons, and Lakeside coach Jay Matthews is ecstatic to have Banker behind the plate.
"It is important to have a guy that can deal with the pitchers, and you want to have a guy with experience," Matthews said. "We know Chris will give us that."
Banker hits third in the Panthers lineup and was one of the better-hitting catchers in a county that had two, Jeremy Armstrong and Mike Armstrong, move on to play college baseball.
"There were a bunch of really good catchers in the county last year," said Banker. "It made you want to play your best."
Pressley was one of the county's best power-hitters last year and, at 6-foot-6 and about 250 pounds, he was one of the area's more intriguing prospects.
Lakeside's Chris Banker watches as Chattahoochee Valley Community College coach Adam Thomas explains the terms of his baseball scholarship. Chris' friend Kayle Hutchins and his parents, Susie and Francis Banker, look on. Banker has been the Panthers' catcher for the last three years and will again play in that position this season.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"Any time a kid has the size and ability Ryan does, schools are naturally going to flock to him," said Evans coach Ricky Beale. "He has all the potential in the world."
Pressley hit .333 with four home runs and 19 RBI last season as the designated hitter. Beale said Pressley will see time at first base this year.
Freeman will get the chance to play with Pressley with the Warriors, one of the nation's best JUCO baseball programs.
Last week, Freeman said he was considering playing college football and baseball.
"That option is still open," he said. "Middle Georgia told me that if a school offered and I felt I would be better suited at another school then I could be granted a release.
"Shorter College has offered me in football and I might look at that. But I really don't think I will leave Middle Georgia. It is where I want to go and I think I will end up playing baseball in the long run."
Freeman was the Knights' No. 2 pitcher last season, going 5-4 with a 2.86 earned-run average. He also threw a no-hitter against Dacula in the first round of the playoffs last season. The senior led the county in passing efficiency during the football season.
Middle Georgia offered Freeman an opportunity to play early, and he said that was the key to possibly giving up football forever.
"I try to tell the kids they should consider going JUCO," Matthews said. "You might sit for a few years at a four-year school, but you can play and develop at a junior college. Then that option of a four-year school will still be there."
All of the players said they wanted to continue on at a four-year school.
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