May 22, 2014

SE's Stanley bringing versatility to Ga. Highlands

Southeast Whitfield High School baseball coach Brad Lofton believes versatility is Abram Stanley’s greatest attribute.

This season proves that’s true, and Stanley will take that skill to college.

The senior committed to Georgia Highlands College, where he will earn a HOPE academic scholarship with the potential to earn an athletic scholarship next spring. Stanley, along with family and friends, celebrated the decision and opportunity Thursday at the high school.

“I was looking for the college that best fit me,” Stanley said, “and I feel this one best fits me.”

A two-sport athlete at Southeast — Stanley also played linebacker on the football field — he’s a baseball player first. As a freshman, he started in right field. He split time starting at right field and third base his sophomore season and then added second base and shortstop to his positions as a junior. This season, he played both corner infield spots, outfield, catcher and pitcher.

“He was one of those things who was a jack of all trades but a master of none,” Lofton said. “He knew a lot of positions but wasn’t at any one for too long.”

That versatility wasn’t constrained to just defense. In a Southeast lineup loaded in the middle, Stanley hit anywhere from second to sixth.

“He could be anywhere in the lineup and would be effective,” Lofton said. “He’s an all-around good ball player. Everything he did, he did well.”

And he was the only captain on the team, which loses him and fellow seniors Blake Foster and Rhett Harper. The latter signed a scholarship with Division I Georgia State University. Southeast finished 15-12 this season. Stanley sported a .435 batting average with two home runs and 23 RBIs.

“I was real close to a couple of the guys,” Stanley said. “You hope to stay close to them, but you can’t promise it. Rhett is going to Georgia State. Blake is going to (University of) West Georgia. I was close to a couple of the football players and underclassmen. I guess I’ll miss the family part and bond you had with them, but I’m also ready to move on and start a new chapter in college.”

At Georgia Highlands, a two-year junior college in Rome, Stanley will play for coach Mike Marra. Georgia Highlands started athletics with basketball and tennis in the fall of 2012. The baseball team played its inaugural season this spring in the Georgia College Athletic Association, which is part of the National Junior College Athletic Association, and finished 20-33 overall.

“He said he’d want me in the outfield,” Stanley said, “but he could use me as a utility player because I can play different positions and he can put me anywhere he wants.”

Stanley visited the school about a month ago and enjoyed the trip and felt “it was where I needed to be.” Other schools interested in Stanley included Truett-McConnell, in Cleveland, and Rome’s Shorter University. He also was considering Bryan College, in Dayton, Tenn., Chattanooga State and Carrollton’s University of West Georgia.

“I was looking for a small school that would fit me best,” said Stanley, who wants to study physical therapy and become an athletic trainer. “I decided to go the JUCO route, play for two years and hopefully transfer to a four-year school.”

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