Signing Day: Four Patriots sign baseball scholarships

Published 4:09 pm Wednesday, November 10, 2021

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The Pike Liberal Arts School baseball program has had plenty of reasons to celebrate recently. They added to that list on Wednesday when four baseball players signed collegiate scholarships.

Drew Nelson signed with Auburn, Cason Eubanks with Georgia Southern, Darryl Lee with Coastal Alabama South and Press Jefcoat signed with Pensacola State College.

“If we could do this every week it would be great,” head baseball coach Rush Hixon said. “We have been really fortunate here to be surrounded by some really talented guys. I think this is eight so far in the two years I have been here and that’s not something that started when I got here. It’s a product of the culture and the program Pike has built the last decade and since the school has been open.”

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The four signees on Wednesday had an opportunity to sign along side not only teammates but close friends as well.

Lee, Jefcoat and Nelson have been playing along side of each other since they were children.

“They aren’t just teammates,” Nelson said. “It’s a brotherhood between us. We’ve been playing together since we were five, six years old. They are some of the closest friends that I have. They made for also some of the best teammates I have had.”

“Cason, this is his first year at Pike, but I have known him for a pretty long time,” Jefcoat said. “Drew and Darryl, we have been playing together for as long as I can remember. So us all being able to sign together is pretty special.”

Lee and Eubanks are new to Pike Liberal Arts this year. Lee, who previously attended Charles Henderson, grew up playing with both Nelson and Jefcoat and Eubanks is familiar with Nelson and Jefcoat from his time playing at Northside Methodist.

“It means a lot,” Lee said. “I came up with Drew and Press through coach pitch until now. Cason, we just started playing together, but we’re already brothers. It’s always been a goal for us to get to this point. Just happy to be here.”

“Feels great to be signing with three of my friends,” Eubanks said. “It’s really an honor because I have played against these guys. We are all here as a team now, so it feels awesome.”

Nelson will join Auburn as both an outfielder and as a pitcher. The senior has been committed to attending Auburn for about two years. Nelson will have an opportunity to play under former Auburn Tiger and Major League pitcher Tim Hudson, who is the Volunteer assistant and pitching coach on the Auburn staff.

“When I was 14 he had a local travel ball team that I went to play for, so that’s where our relationship started,” Nelson said. “It actually sparked my interest in Auburn and it sparked my conversations with the coaches also.”

Wednesday was a culmination of all the hard work he put into his craft during the season and the offseason.

“I love the sport of baseball,” Nelson said. “I fell in love with it when I was a little kid. It takes a lot of dedication. You see me out there almost every single day because you have to love it to play at the next level.”

As a pitcher last season, Nelson finished 7-1 with .942 ERA. He had 97 strikeouts in just 52 innings pitched.

“Drew has a special skill set to go along with an elite work ethic that will allow him to make an impact in the SEC as a two-way player,” Hixon said. “Drew has been a major part of the last three state championship teams at Pike and we are extremely proud of everything he’s accomplished and will continue to accomplish.”

Jefcoat is also a member of the Patriot pitching staff. He decided Pensacola was the place for him after a visit to the campus and the city.

“Down there on my visit I really liked the coaches and I just liked their attitudes toward getting you better and to the next level,” Jefcoat said.

He will continue to be a pitcher at Pensacola and hopes to continue to improve.

“I’m going to be a pitcher,” Jefcoat said. “I just hope to go down there and compete and get to the next level.”

Jefcoat went a perfect 6-0 last season. He finished with a 2.80 ERA and had 50 strikeouts in 35 innings pitched.

“Press played a huge roll in our rotation as a junior on our 2021 state championship team,” Hixon said. “Press throws the ball with some velocity and features an elite strikeout pitch with his breaking ball. Arguably Press’s best attribute is his ability to compete and will to win. We expect a big senior year for Press and our very proud of all he’s accomplished to this point.

Lee enters his first season with the Patriots after playing and attending Charles Henderson High School.

Like Jefcoat, Lee was drawn to his school after visiting the campus and talking with the Coastal Alabama coaching staff.

“Coach Sheldon and coach Lambert came to talk to me and always stayed in touch,” Lee said. “It just felt good. I went on my visit and everything felt right. I enjoyed the campus and felt comfortable. They kept in touch with me throughout the recruiting process. It just felt like the right decision.”

Lee hopes to make an immediate impact at Coastal, whether that’s on the mound or at the plate.

“I’m listed as a two-way so I’ll be pitching and hitting, whichever I’m effective in,” Lee said. “I’ll try my best to be effective and try to win.”

Last season with Charles Henderson Lee hit .315 with four home runs, 11 doubles and had an On Base Percentage of .422.

“Darryl is a really special athlete who has a really special skill set,” Hixon said. “Darryl has incredible range in the outfield and features a bat that can hit for average and power. Darryl also has a plus arm and can make a big impact on the mound as well as in the field. We are very proud of Darryl and can’t wait to watch him compete this spring and at Coastal Alabama.”

Wednesday’s signing was a dream come true for Eubanks.

“it’s amazing,” Eubanks said. “I’ve been looking forward to this moment since I was six years old watching everybody on the news and on social media. It’s a dream come true honestly and I’m appreciative of everybody that came and supported me.”

Eubanks has a connection with Georgia Southern and his love for the city of Statesboro was a big draw in getting him to Georgia Southern.

“It’s where my old football coach played,” Eubanks said. “When he took me up there for a camp I really fell in love with the coaches, the atmosphere and everything. It reminds me a lot of Dothan. The college town has a home feeling and I just feel like I fit in.”

Eubanks finished last season at Northside Methodist with a .405 batting average, a .600 OBP, 10 doubles, five triples and three home runs.

“Cason features a really good set of tools for a shortstop as he can defend really well while also featuring a really good bat that can hit for average and power,” Hixon said. “Cason plays the game with a lot of energy and will bring an immediate spark to any lineup he’s in. We cannot wait to watch him compete this spring and for the next few years at Georgia Southern.”

Eubanks will be a middle infielder at GSU.