By Devin Golden
CHATSWORTH — North Murray High School seniors Jared Goswick and Ethan Lents didn’t plan on playing college baseball together, but it’s a coincidence they’re both happy with.
In a dual celebration Wednesday at the high school, the two Mountaineers signed partial athletic scholarships with Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn., an NAIA school and Appalachian Athletic Conference member.
“The good thing about it is they’re best friends,” Mountaineers baseball coach Steve Granger said. “Both on and off the field. So for them to go together, it’s a plus.”
Both have been playing the sport since their tee ball years, and they’ve been friends since joining the North Murray program as freshmen. Now Goswick and Lents will move on together, and they admitted it will be a little less frightening to make the transition with a close friend there.
“You’ll have someone you know,” Lents said.
Both pitch for North Murray; when not on the mound, Goswick is an outfielder and Lents is an infielder. Their versatility is one of the most exciting aspects of the two players, Bryan coach Taylor Hasty said.
“A lot of times when we look at high school players, we have to project,” he said. “We have to say, ‘This is what we see in them ... This is where we see them fitting in and what we want them to accomplish.’ With these two guys, because they are two-way players, we’re actually not necessarily sure what we’re getting out of them yet. I think we’re getting two really good athletes who have been able to succeed as position players along with on the mound.”
Bryan’s varsity team is 16-15 overall and 4-8 in AAC play this year. Last season, the Lions went 41-18 and 17-7. The plan is for both Goswick and Lents to start on the program’s junior varsity roster, Hasty said, and during the fall 2013 season start to determine what role each can best fill.
“We’re anxious to get them plugged into our system and see if they will be able to do the two-way thing in college or just pitch or just play a position,” Hasty said. “Any time you sign athletes, which is what we’re doing here, then you have the opportunity to plug them into numerous positions and make the roster that much more diverse.”
Goswick is hitting .300 on the season with five RBIs. On the mound, he is 3-1 with a 2.58 earned-run average in a team-leading 21 2/3 innings. Lents is hitting .242 with two doubles and has been on the mound for 15 1/3 innings, posting a 5.48 ERA and 0-1 record. The Mountaineers are 4-7 overall and 1-1 in Region 5-3A play.
The two made an official visit to Bryan before Christ-mas, Goswick said, and both “really liked it.”
“We got offered scholarships at different times,” he added. “We talked about it and both decided it would be awesome to go together and keep playing together.”
Despite making the same decision, each had different reasons for his choice.
“I especially liked the campus,” said Goswick, who also was considering Piedmont College in Demorest and Tennessee’s Cleveland State Community College. “Every-one seemed nice — the coaches, teachers and students. It seemed like a great place to get an education.”
Said Lents, “It’s a Christian school, and it’s kind of small. I wouldn’t like going to a big university or anything. And it’s close together. I won’t get lost or anything.”
Regardless of the reasons, it couldn’t have turned out much better.
“If they could have it their way,” Granger said, “then this would be their way.”