3 former Cougars sign with 4-year programsBy ROBBIE ROBERTSON,
Jacob Edwards, Cain Cleveland and Tanner Elders all came to East Central to play together for two more years.
Now they know, they have just one more year left to play together.
The trio of former Newton County standouts each signed scholarships to play four-year baseball last week.
Edwards signed to play at Southern Mississippi for coach Scott Berry. Edwards hit .316 last season with 38 RBI while playing in all 51 games. He had 62 hits, including five home runs, 15 doubles, and a team-leading three triples. He also stole 23 bases to lead the Warriors.
Edwards also had offers from Louisiana-Monroe, Troy, Houston, Southeastern Louisiana and Alabama.
“It’s like my dream school. I love being down there and the coaches seemed really invested in me,” Edwards said. “I went this fall and looked at the stadium and could see myself playing there. It was a really great experience.”
Edwards said he was looking forward to playing another year with Cleveland and Elders.
“It’s like a dream come true for all three of us to sign to play four-year baseball,” Edwards said. “I’ve been playing with these guys all of my life. I thought it was cool to play with them after high school. We have been working hard our whole lives and now we are going our separate ways. we are just really going to enjoy this last year together and hopefully get a ring before we go onto our next school.”
Cleveland will be taking his talents to the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Cleveland hit .269 last season in a limited role. He appeared in 29 games with 30 plate appearances and eight hits.
“A friend of mine is over there and recommended it,” Cleveland said. “They have one of the best engineering programs around and a really good baseball program. And Huntsville is a growing city with a lot of potential.
“I think this says a lot for the coaches we have played for. I give a lot of credit to Coach (Wyatt) Tullos at Newton County and Coach (Neal) Holliman and all of the assistant coaches who have coached us. To have three guys sign at this level is a big deal and that’s a credit to them.”
Elders will have the shortest trip as he heads down Interstate 20 to the University of West Alabama. Elders compiled a 2-2 record while appearing in 17 games. He struck out 23 batters in 36 innings pitched.
Elders said he had an offer from Tennessee-Martin and interest from other schools but didn’t consider any others after.
“I din’t even think about them after I got an offer from West Alabama,” Elders said. “Really just the fact that it is close to home and I have lived here my entire life and have never really been away from home. I wanted to stay close to home. Coach Holliman told me they would be a good fit for me and I listen to him. He knows a lot about stuff like that.
Like the others, Elders is looking forward to one more season together.
“It’s excited that they get to go off and play,” Elders said. “I’m sort of sad because we have been together our whole lives playing baseball. It’s just kind of nervous that I will be alone but they are my brothers and I love them and wish them the best of luck.