Trojan signing day

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Parker Sanders and David Fleming have been playing baseball together since T-ball. The duo of Charles Henderson Trojans did not want to break the streak following graduation. On Tuesday, Sanders and Fleming both signed a baseball scholarship to play for the Northwest Shoals Community College Patriots after high school.

“It is going to be awesome to go there with a teammate and have some previous teammates there as well,” Sanders said. “It is going to be fun and I am excited.”

Fleming and Sanders will join 2008 CHHS graduates William Teal and Drew Vaughn on the Patriots’ squad next year.

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Fleming said this has been a dream come true for him.

“It is unbelievable and I have been wanting to play college baseball ever since I got into high school,” Fleming said. “It is great to have this chance.

Fleming and Sanders have two titles under their belt as teammates. They were both part of the 2004 Junior Dixie Boys World Series championship squad. The teammates were also part of the Troy American Legion Post 70 team that won the Alabama American Legion Baseball championship this summer only two months after finishing runner-up in the AHSAA Class 5A State Finals.

Fleming said winning the two championships has helped him get to where he is today.

“It definitely helps build confidence whenever you win that much over such a short amount of time,” Fleming said. “It also gets you better on the field.”

Northwest Shoals was nearly the site of a Sanders reunion. Blake Sanders is a sophomore at NW-SCC and an injured shoulder nearly made him redshirt this year, which would have allowed for the reunion.

Parker Sanders said that would have been great, but he is glad his brother does not need to go under the knife.

“His senior year (of high school), which was my sophomore year, was the first time we were both in the same lineup,” he said. “It was awesome to see B. Sanders and then P. Sanders down the lineup card. And with his shoulder he almost stayed another year. I know I would have stayed if I could. I didn’t want him to get hurt, but if he was going to get hurt and he had to stay I would have enjoyed that.”

Blake Sanders said he is proud to have started the cycle going with CHHS players signing with Shoals.

“I am real proud of Parker and I am glad to have started the trend of going to Shoals,” Blake Sanders said.

The duo will embark on the next stage together, but Parker Sanders said they are not finished at Charles Henderson quite yet.

“I want to exceed the expectations put on us from last year,” Sanders said. “I want to be more than just the team that was good last year, but is only OK this year because we lost so much. I want to be as good as we were last year or better.”

NW-SCC pitching coach and recruiting coordinator Shane Chappell said the Patriots are glad to get two quality baseball players.

“One thing we have had a history of is great pitching at Shoals,” Chappell said. “We try and get guys who can come right in and pitch right away and we think David has that ability. He pitches from different arm slots, he knows how to get guys out and he is a competitor which is the biggest thing.”

Chappell said as far as Sanders, the pedigree was there with Blake Sanders playing for the Patriots.

“Parker was another great kid and he is a good runner and handles the bat real well at the plate,” Chappell said. “He is a leadoff, nine-hole type hitter who has some tools that will make him effective for us.”

On the field accomplishments and abilities are one thing, but Chappell said he is glad to get the duo for another reason as well.

“More important than baseball for us is that they are both high character kids,” he said. “And that is the type of guys we want to bring in because it makes for a fun year when you have good guys around you that love the game of baseball.”

Chappell’s friendship with CHHS head coach Derek Irons should keep the Trojan connection to Muscle Shoals intact. Irons has not been here long, but he said it is always great to a player sign a scholarship.

“It is always exciting to see guys sign scholarships,” Irons said. “There has been a great tradition of that at Charles Henderson. And both Sanders and Fleming have shown great leadership in the fall and in our preseason workouts.”

The entire senior class, friends and family were on hand to witness the signing Tuesday morning and everyone in attendance witnessed the duo of Trojans take the next step in their baseball careers.