Worth County baseball standout Eli Reddell, front row, center, flashes a big smile after signing with nearby Andrew College on Wednesday as he is surrounded by friends, family and his high school coaches. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
SYLVESTER — He's one of those over-achieving kids who coaches and teammates love — the kind who gives until it hurts, the first one at practice and the last to leave.
And that's only a fraction of what makes Worth County's Eli Reddell the player and student he is for the Rams.
Now he's headed for Andrew College, where he will take his bat, glove, five pitches and a 3.5 GPA to college, where Reddell plans to major in history and education and eventually become a coach and a teacher.
Reddell, the ace of Worth County's staff and consummate leader for the Rams, signed a letter-of-intent with Andrew on Wednesday morning in front of friends and family and a large crowd of Worth County students.
He waved to the crowd and thanked everyone.
"He is such a great kid,'' Worth County baseball coach Will Smith said Wednesday morning. "Eli absolutely loves the game, and he has worked extremely hard to get where he is today. He's 5-foot-7. He doesn't have that physical presence to say, 'Hey, look at me.' But he works hard. He's gotten there by getting dirty. He's the kind of kid you want in your program.''
Reddell was all smiles Wednesday.
"I would really rather go some place small, and Andrew is a good fit for me,'' Reddell said. "I've got friends going there, and I'm looking forward to going there and playing baseball there.''
Reddell, who was also the quarterback for Worth County's football team, has been playing baseball since he could pick up a bat and ball.
"I started playing baseball when I was 3,'' Reddell said. "When I was a sophomore, I started thinking about going to college (on a scholarship) and playing baseball in college. My coaches gave me the confidence to believe I could play in college. That was the plan, and I'm very excited to sign with Andrew. It takes a lot of pressure off me for the rest of the season.''
Reddell is the heart of Worth's young team. He is not only the ace of the staff but the team's leading hitter. He draws the best opponents and faces the top pitchers in Region 1-AAAA and has won almost half of Worth's games this season. Reddell is 4-4 with a 4.30 ERA. He has struck out 47 batters while walking 18, and he leads Worth in hitting with a .390 average.
"He's going to Andrew primarily as a pitcher, but Eli can play every position,'' Smith said. "When he's not pitching, he's our shortstop, and he played third base for us last year. He has played all three infield positions. He can play anywhere, and he can throw from any angle. He'll make a play and you will think there's no chance for him to make a throw, and he makes it. He's fun to watch.''