LANCASTER — They had never played a game for their new coach, but he played a major role in the decisions T.J. Midkiff and Ronnie Saylor made about playing college baseball.
The two Garrard County seniors have signed to play for Alice Lloyd College, the same place where first-year Garrard coach C.J. Lynn played and coached.
Both Midkiff and Saylor said their new coach’s endorsement carried a great deal of weight, but the two boys said they developed their own impressions of the Pippa Passes campus when they visited in January.
“I felt like it was a nice fit for us both, and we can go down there and get some playing time our freshman year,” Saylor said.
Lynn played for Alice Lloyd, then worked as a graduate assistant for the Eagles before joining the Garrard faculty last year, and Midkiff said he turned their attention to the school.
“He was really urging us to go there,” Midkiff said. “He said it was a good place for him to go, and he got his education and played ball at the same time, and the work-study program there really helped him out.”
Midkiff and Saylor said they had no problem putting their trust in a coach they had never played for.
“We’ve got along since he’s got here. He’s taken us in like his own sons, really. He trusts us to make the plays, and we trusted him,” Saylor said.
Lynn said he’s confident both players will succeed at Alice Lloyd.
“Both of those guys are going to do well in college. They’re both hard players, and they both work their butts off,” he said. “They kind of fell in love with the place when they went down there ... and they’re both going to do great down there.”
Alice Lloyd, in its 23rd season under coach Scott Cornett, entered this week with a 10-18 record. The Eagles have another area player on their roster: Danville graduate Ben Ray, a junior second baseman.
The two Garrard players decided they wanted to try to go to the same school, but they made their decisions separately. Midkiff, a center fielder, said he settled on Alice Lloyd a couple of months ago, while Saylor, a catcher, said he made up his mind about the time the season started.
“We both decided that we were going together, and so (the fact) that he was going made me really want to go, too,” Midkiff said.
Both players said they have long dreamed of getting the chance to play in college.
“Since I could drink out of a bottle,” Midkiff said.
“As soon as I could be on my own two feet,” Saylor added.
Now they’re glad their decision is behind them.
“It takes a monkey off your back,” Saylor said.
“A lot of stress is gone, and you just want to win for your team now instead of looking for people and trying to get attention,” added Midkiff.