PATS’ SIGNING DAY: Trio of Patriots put pen to paper
Pike Liberal Arts School had a reason to celebrate on Wednesday as three players signed Letters of Intent on National Signing Day.
Seniors Levi Sikes and Hunter Keenan will continue their baseball careers at Central Alabama and senior kicker Scott Taylor Renfroe will kick for the hometown Trojans.
The three Patriots signed in front of a packed gymnasium full of family, coaches, students and teachers.
“This is really like a dream come true,” Keenan said. “Ever since I was little I wanted to play college baseball. It’s really a blessing to be here today.”
Sikes grew up playing and talking about the game of baseball with his grandfather. Sikes credits the teaching of his grandfather for getting him to the next level
“It feels really great,” Sikes said. “Me and my granddad always talked about it. He gets on to my brother and me for not listening to him, but we listen to him. He tells us what to do and that is what got me to the next level. It means a lot to him, my family and me. We have talked about this day for a long time.”
Renfroe grew up a Trojans fan and after committing to Troy in May, he made it official in front of family and friends on Wednesday morning.
“It’s a dream come true,” Renfroe said. “I have been a Troy fan my whole life. I remember as a little kid looking at the Troy players all being way bigger than me, but wanting to be out there. It’s been a dream for me.”
Renfroe started his athletic career as a soccer player before later joining the junior varsity football team as a kicker. Five years later, Renfroe is regarded as one of the top kickers in the state of Alabama.
“I started trying in the seventh grade,” Renfroe said. “Wes Allen was the JV coach at the time and I had been playing soccer my entire life. He told me to come out and try it and I was not very good. I started perfecting my craft and started meeting great coaches …they helped me along the way.”
Renfroe was the lone kicker in Troy’s 2021 recruiting class and head coach Chip Lindsey is excited about having a hometown player on his roster.
“Having my own kids play on that team (PLAS) I had the chance of seeing him a whole lot,” Troy head coach Chip Lindsey said. “Very impressed. First year I got here he came to our camp and did well. Anytime you can get a kid right here in the city of Troy it’s exciting. It was exciting to offer a scholarship and for him to accept. It’s a special moment. He is a guy that is continuing to improve I have seen him get stronger and get better in the year and half or two since I have been here.”
Renfroe comes to Troy rated as the No. 15 kicker in the country by 247 Sports Composite and a top 100 player in the state of Alabama. Earlier this year, College Football Today ranked Renfroe the eighth best kicker and the 13th best specialist in the country for the class of 2021.
Keenan will make the move to Alexander City, a place that is the perfect distance away from home. He will have a chance to play under head coach Larry Thomas.
“I really like CACC because its not a long ways away and I really like everything I have heard about it,” Keenan said. “I talked with Coach Thomas and I really like what he has going on up there.”
Signing in front of a large crowd proves to Keenan how much support he and his teammates have at Pike.
“It shows how much we support each other at Pike,” Keenan said. “It shows how much everybody loves each other. We are really just like a big family out here.
Keenan mainly plays second base with the Patriots, but also spends time at third. With one more season remaining at Pike, Keenan hopes to become a more all around player.
“I really want to better myself as an all around player,” Keenan said, adding “just work on my skills and work on my attributes, really just prepare myself for the college level coming up this fall.”
Head coach Rush Hixon believes Keenan is just now starting to find his stride.
“Hunter is a player that is just starting to hit his stride.” Hixon said. “He has exceptional hands and his work ethic is extremely good. I believe his best days of baseball are ahead of him, and I can’t wait to see his career continue to develop at CACC.”
Sikes has been playing baseball since T-ball. In the early days of baseball, through all the summers of travel ball, Sikes has continued to fine tune his game in hopes of getting himself prepared for collegiate baseball.
“My granddad and I come up here every day in the offseason to get better every day, taking ground balls and batting practice,” he said.
Sikes has spent his time at Pike playing the corner infield positions as well pitching. When he makes the move to Central Alabama Sikes believes he will play either first or third base.
Before he makes the move, Sikes wants to continue to work on the fundamentals and improve both offensively and defensively.
“I feel like I need to get better in the field a little bit,” Sikes said. “Hitting wise, I need to work on going with the pitch and going to the opposite field.”
Coach Hixon believes Sikes has an opportunity to make an impact in many different areas and feels he is a complete player.
“Levi will have a very successful career at the next level because he is a complete player,” Hixon said. “His combination of size and strength is what sets him apart. I fully expect him to make an impact not only as a hitter but as a pitcher as well at CACC. I look forward to watching him play the game for a long time,” Hixon said.
Sikes visited Central Alabama and immediately felt at home after meeting with coach Larry Thomas.
“He took me on a visit and it usually takes an hour,” Sikes said. “He took two with me. It made me feel like it was home and that I would be welcomed there.”
Keenan and Sikes, two close friends, will have an opportunity to continue their friendship and play with one another at CACC.
“Hunter is probably my best friend,” Sikes said. “We hit together and come to the field together all the time. We will be roommates, so it’s going to be great all the way around.”
“It’s super cool,” Keenan said. “I’m going up there with one of my best friends in the world. Playing baseball together is really a dream come true. It’s one of the best situations that I have ever been in.”