CAMILLA -- It felt right -- the way the baseball feels in his hand just before he snaps off a curveball, the way the mound feels when it's firm and familiar and steady under his feet.
Just right ...
That's how Douglas Nobles knew he belonged at Georgia Southern, where he will take his big bat and 90 mph fastball and play college baseball next year.
Nobles hasn't even started his senior year at Westwood, but he was so sure he wanted to go to Georgia Southern that he told Georgia and Auburn no and made a verbal commitment to the Eagles.
"It's somewhere I wanted go,'' Nobles said. "It came up and I took it.''
He's been to the campus in Statesboro a number of times, and said everything just felt right there.
"I've been there a lot for football games and baseball games,'' Nobles said. "The atmosphere is good, the sporting events, the campus, everything. The baseball program is great.''
He had no doubt about his decision, but it's not binding. He won't be allowed to sign a letter of intent until Nov. 1, but Nobles sounded determined to stick to his decision.
"They (Georgia and Auburn) were pretty interested, but I want to go to Georgia Southern,'' he said. "That's where I need to be. It's just like home to me.''
Nobles was a big reason Westwood reached the GISA Class A state final, where the Wildcats fell to Crisp Academy. Nobles pitched a no-hitter in the Final Four against Memorial and took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against Crisp, which scratched out two runs to beat Westwood, 2-1, in the first game of the championship series.
"He was our No. 1 starter from Day 1,'' said Westwood coach Al Timmerman, whose team changed when Nobles showed up from Baconton Charter last year. "He came in and fit right in with everybody. I'm glad he's coming back next year. I've got another year with him.''
Nobles throws a fastball that has been clocked in the 88 to 90 mph range, and he also throws a curve, slider and changeup. He pitched this summer for a traveling team in Columbus (the Columbus Chain) and went 6-0, averaging nine strikeouts a game.
He was a monster at the plate during the high school season, belting 12 home runs and batting .440 with 28 RBI. His homers are usually moon shots.
"The home runs he hit were no-doubters,'' Timmerman said. "He let some bombs go. He can pitch, play third base and he can catch. He can definitely pitch, and he can hit with power and he can hit for average.''
Timmerman had no doubt Nobles would earn a college scholarship.
"I knew he was going to play somewhere,'' he said. "It was just a matter of where he wanted to go.''
Nobles thinks committing early and signing early will help him play better next spring.
"I'm stoked,'' he said. "I'm happy, and I'm really happy to get it out of the way so I can play this year and not have that pressure on my shoulders. I can go out and do what I need to do.''