Reece Edwards put up astounding numbers as a pitcher last year, but the Carroll County senior will continue his baseball career as a catcher at Concord University.
Edwards signed his letter of intent Nov. 13 to play for the Mountain Lions. Last season, Edwards earned first-team All-Region IV, All-Southwest District, and Honorable Mention All-State honors for his fine play all around the diamond. As a pitcher, he led the team in innings pitched with 39 and allowed just four earned runs all season for a miniscule 0.72 ERA. He also led the team in strikeouts with 55 and walked 28 en route to a 2-2 season with two saves.
But Edwards also put up big numbers at the plate, leading the team in 2013 in hits (27), batting average (.435), doubles (5), home runs (1), on-base percentage (.533), slugging percentage (.565) and walks (12).
A rare four-year starter for Carroll County’s storied baseball program, Edwards earned first-team All-SWD and second-team All-Region IV honors as a sophomore as he hit .349 with 15 base hits, 7 RBIs, four doubles, six steals and an on-base percentage of .440.
“Catching is my favorite spot,” Edwards said of playing behind the plate for Concord. “I am going as a catcher and I am excited and just ready to go play.”
Edwards also considered Lenoir-Rhyne College, St. Augustine’s University and Newberry College. But he fell in love with Concord, so much so that his father Glenn said Reece was ready to commit right on the spot after visiting the campus.
“Concord just puts out a winning program down there and I am going to do the best I can do. It was Concord the whole way. I just really like it - the coach, the team, just everything about it,” Edwards said. “He just seemed like a really good guy, a really baseball-minded person, and he wants to win.”
Edwards said he will continue to pitch some this year for the Cavaliers, but will mainly focus on catching. He wanted to thank the many who helped him make it to the collegiate level, including Bobby Smith, his 14 AAU coach, Dwayne Puryear of the Blue Ridge Hitting Center, and Danny Sheaffer of Mount Airy, N.C., who played for the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals over 11 seasons in the major leagues.
“It took an army to get him here,” said Edwards’ mother, Marlene.
After the signing, Carroll County head baseball coach Joe Tompkins reflected on Edwards’ four-year career with the Cavaliers’ varsity baseball program.
“There’s not been many,” Tompkins said, referring to four-year starters at CCHS. “He’s been an asset to the school. He has done a great job and he is a good leader. He has done anything he’s been asked to do, whatever position he is asked to play. He has done a great job for us for four years.”
Edwards made such an impression on Concord College that he will earn a partial scholarship for a Division II program that can only give out six scholarships. The Edwards family was equally as impressed with Concord head coach Andrew Wright, who has led the Mountain Lions to West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles in two of his three seasons as head coach. Last season, Concord set a new school record for wins in a season with 36.
Aside from his accomplishments on the diamond, the family was also excited about Wright’s commitment to see his athletes succeed off the field.
“When we met him, he took the whole afternoon for us, showed us all around the campus, made Reece fill out his application that day. He took us and showed him the study hall program and we got to talk to the guy who runs that,” Marlene Edwards said. “He sets a GPA for the team and then he gives them personal GPAs he wants them to meet, and it increases every year. He wants them to be a champion on the ball field and a champion in the classroom. He also makes them do 1,000 hours of community service on the team because he says, ‘I want you to be a champion in your community and give back. People have given for you to get here, so you need to give back.’ This guy is what we have prayed for all these years. Now it is Reece’s job to be faithful to what God has given him.”