Darton baseball players, front, from left, John Harman, Brandon Goldsmith, Vintavis Jerger, Hill Thomas and Payton Mann sign national letters-of-intent on Wednesday. The players were joined by, back, from left, assistant coach Boone Webster, head coach Scot Hemmings, assistant coach Justin Huff, student assistant coach CJ Hillard and assistant coach Trey Strickland. (David Mann/Darton State College) Front Row: John Harman, Brandon Goldsmith, Vintavis Jerger, Hill Thomas, Payton Mann
ALBANY — Five Darton State College baseball players signed early commitments to four-year schools at a ceremony Wednesday at the school.
John Harman, Brandon Goldsmith, Ventavis Jerger, Hill Thomas and Payton Mann all signed commitment letters on the first day of the NJCAA’s early signing period.
“This is just another example of why guys are wanting to come here,” Darton State College head baseball coach Scot Hemmings said. “It’s evident we’re developing players from the high school level into major college prospects.”
Harman, a left-handed pitcher from Carrollton, signed with Western Kentucky University. The Hilltoppers are a Division I program that will enter the highly competitive Conference USA next year. Harman threw 51 strikeouts in 17 appearances and averaged six strikeouts per game as a freshman. He kept a low 2.82 ERA in conference play and finished No. 2 in the GCAA with seven wins.
Goldsmith, a right-hander from Hamilton, was a perfect 6-0 on the mound last season and signed with the University of West Georgia. Goldsmith joined the Cavaliers from Harris Country High School, and as a Darton freshman had an incredible 2.52 ERA.
Jerger signed with Division I Florida A&M. The shortstop scored 30 runs, had 11 RBIs and posted a .339 conference batting average. Speed is one of Jergers’ best assets, and the Tallahassee native stole 26 bases last spring.
Thomas and Mann both signed as catchers. Thomas came to Darton from Early County High School and signed with Georgia Southwestern University. Mann, a Tifton native, signed with West Georgia University.
“If you look at these signees — in the classroom, on the field, off the field, in the community — the word that comes to mind is ‘elite’,” Hemmings said. “They are elite players, and elite players have the whole package.
“These guys are phenomenal, and I’m proud of them. They’ve worked their tails off.”
Darton baseball has produced seven Division I transfers and seven Division II transfers from the past two classes. Those numbers are expected to leap again, as a number of sophomores are holding out until the next signing period in April.