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Pair of Darton baseball players move on to next level

Two Darton State College baseball players — Davis Knapp, second from left, and Tripp Calhoun, second from right, signed to play at the Division I level this week as Calhoun is headed to Troy, while Knapp will play next year for South Alabama. The pair was joined Friday at their signing by Darton assistant baseball coach Justin Huff, far left, and head Coach Scot Hemmings. Calhoun played 51 games as catcher for the Cavaliers, batting .328, with 26 RBI, 31 runs scored, eight doubles and a .398 on-base percentage, while Knapp batted .313, scored 36 runs, had 24 RBI, stole 18 bases and posted a .429 on-base percentage. (David Mann/Darton State College)

Two Darton State College baseball players — Davis Knapp, second from left, and Tripp Calhoun, second from right, signed to play at the Division I level this week as Calhoun is headed to Troy, while Knapp will play next year for South Alabama. The pair was joined Friday at their signing by Darton assistant baseball coach Justin Huff, far left, and head Coach Scot Hemmings. Calhoun played 51 games as catcher for the Cavaliers, batting .328, with 26 RBI, 31 runs scored, eight doubles and a .398 on-base percentage, while Knapp batted .313, scored 36 runs, had 24 RBI, stole 18 bases and posted a .429 on-base percentage. (David Mann/Darton State College)

ALBANY --- Darton State College sophomores Tripp Calhoun and Davis Knapp have a lot in common – they’re both highly skilled catchers, they’re both physical therapy majors and they both signed national letters-of-intent with NCAA Division programs this week.

Calhoun, a catcher who came to Darton from Dacula High School, signed with Troy University. Catcher and utility player Davis Knapp signed with the University of South Alabama.

“It is truly amazing to have two catchers commit to play at big-time Division 1 schools from the same junior college program,” Darton head baseball coach Scott Hemmings said. “We are extremely proud of both Davis and Tripp and appreciate their work ethic and dedication to our program. We set 11 school records last year, finished 3rd in the conference, and were ranked as high as 12th in the nation. This would not of been possible without these two young men. We hope this early sign will allow them to relax and focus on finishing their career at Darton with a conference title in hand.”

Both student-athletes performed exceptionally well as freshmen at Darton.

Calhoun played 51 games as catcher for the Cavaliers. He batted .328, hit 26 RBI, scored 31 runs, hit eight doubles and posted a .398 on-base percentage.

“He has developed into one of the best catch and throw guys in the state,” Hemmings said. “Tripp has not only improved on his catching, but has developed into an offensive threat for us as well.”

Knapp played high school ball for Tallassee High School in Alabama, where he played against Coach Hemmings, who at the time coached Central Phenix City High School baseball. Upon his hire at Darton in 2011, Hemmings recruited Knapp into the Cavalier program.

“Darton has been an unbelievable experience,” Knapp said. “It’s mind boggling to see this facility when you get here – and just the way you’re treated as an athlete here in terms of attire, the way we travel, meals, the coaching – it’s amazing.”

During his freshman year at Darton, Knapp batted .313, scored 36 runs, hit 24 RBI, stole 18 bases, posted a .429 on-base percentage and set a school hit-by-pitch record of 22.

“Davis is one of our most valuable offensive players who can bunt, hit, steal bases, and is a complete distraction on the base paths for opposing teams,” Hemmings said. “Not only is Davis a great catcher, but he can play anywhere on the field and brings energy and passion every time he steps on the field.

“Davis is a guy you love to have on your team, but hate playing against him.”

Knapp said the facilities, high level of baseball and the academics of the University of South Alabama all led to his decision to sign with the Jaguars.

Calhoun said the facilities and coaching staff at Troy “seemed like a really good fit”.

Both athletes will finish their sophomore years at Darton and feel that this is the beginning of a big year for the Cavalier program.