Laurence Manning Academy's JT Stanley has been playing baseball practically all of his life. On Thursday, he made a decision on where he wants to play the sport for the next four years.
Stanley signed to play with Columbia International …
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Stanley signed to play with Columbia International University during a ceremony at Bubba Davis Gymnasium.
"it's a blessing honestly," Stanley said of getting the opportunity to play at the collegiate level. It means all the hard work that I've been putting in finally pay off. I'm happy to get the chance to prove that I can actually do it."
Stanley said he first had contact with CIU last summer and fall when he was playing with a showcase team. He visited the school in November but weighed his options from among some junior college and NCAA Division II offers before pulling the trigger.
"It was still early in the whole recruiting process for me," Stanley said about taking his time in making a decision. "I wanted to wait until the time felt right to accept it."
Columbia International is a Christian school that just recently began having intercollegiate athletic teams. The baseball program was in its first season before it was shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.. The Rams went 9-13 overall and 2-4 in the Appalachian Athletic Conference, which is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
"I do like it because it's a good Christian-based school," he said. I think it's an up and coming program. It means a lot (to be part of a fledgling program). It lets me know what I'm getting into."
Stanley said CIU head coach Jonathan Johnson is planning on using him as a pitcher. LMA head coach Barry Hatfield thinks CIU has a good pitcher on its hands.
"JT is a very hard worker," Hatfield said. "He worked real hard in the fall, in the weight room and with running. Based on what he did for us before the shutdown, he was well on his way to a great season.
"He has a great arm slot. The ball just comes out of his body. He spent the fall and summer working on his breaking ball and he has a plus changeup. I think with the changeup he may have a chance to pitch early."
Stanley pitched 10 innings for the Swampcats before their season was shut down and had a 0.70 earned run average. As a junior, the right-hander was 2-0 with two saves and a 3.07 ERA.
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