LEESBURG -- Sometimes the word "star" is overused.
But that's not the case with Lee County baseball star Chase Griffin, who signed a scholarship to play for Georgia Southern on Tuesday after an outstanding junior season with the Trojans.
"I'm pretty excited. It's the school I've always dreamed I'd be going to, and I'm really excited for this opportunity to have a scholarship there and go play baseball for them," said Griffin, one of Lee County's co-captains last year who batted .444 with 36 hits and 34 RBI en route to being named the team's MVP. "Being a senior this year, it's just a real honor to play at Lee County High School for coach (Rob) Williams ... hopefully we can do pretty good this year."
Griffin really emerged for the Trojans toward the end of last season after batting .276 his sophomore year, according to Williams, which is why the coach expects his hard work to pay off in his final year of high school and next year in college.
"He stepped into the catching role about midseason last year and earned his position on the run," said Williams, whose team was 20-9 overall and 11-5 Region 1S-AAAA last year. "He's still learning, but he's come a long way back there directing our pitching staff. He's doing a great job with that. He led us in hitting last year, so he's not only a good defensive catcher for us, but an offensive force also."
So who's been the senior's mentor so far? Well, a lot of people.
"My dad (Todd Griffin), definitely -- he's always kept me involved and been there for me -- and my mom (Michele Griffin), my whole family, they've really (supported me)," said Griffin, who played in two national baseball showcases over the summer. "I've always kept God in perspective, too. He's helped me through tough times. Baseball is really a game where it's all mental, and He has helped me there. And yeah, my daddy's just really helped me to be committed to the game and love the game itself."
Todd and Michele Griffin have given their son full support throughout his young baseball career, and obviously wish him nothing but the best this year and in the future.
"(We're) extremely proud. He's worked really hard over the years and really committed himself to the game of baseball. It's been an amazing journey to watch him starting when he was 4 years old," Todd Griffin said. "I actually coached him and a lot of his friends -- all these guys that are here now -- throughout the (recreation league) years. And of course, we had some great moments -- we won the Dixie World Series in '05 -- so it's been an amazing (trip)."
While Griffin still has the season ahead of him at Lee County -- which had a bit of a down year (by Trojans' standards) this past spring in that the team reached the postseason, but lost in the first round to Lakeside, Evans in three games -- Griffin will join an Eagles program in Statesboro that has success under head coach Rodney Hennon, who is in his 10th year.
Georgia Southern went 34-24 last year overall, and 19-11 in the Southern Conference, but they won the league title as recently as 2009 and have seven titles to its credit -- 1993, '96, '97, 2000, '01, '02 and 2009. The Eagles have also reached two NCAA College World Series and have made 12 NCAA regional appearances.