THOMASVILLE — Surrounded by his family, coaches and teammates, Thomasville High School senior Hurston Waldrep signed his letter of intent Tuesday morning.
Waldrep, a right-handed pitcher and all-Region 1-AA selection, signed with the University of Southern Mississippi.
“We work a long time for this,” he said. "For it to be finally done, it feels crazy to think about. To have everybody here, my teammates, my family, it’s a lot to take in at one time, and it means a lot for everybody to be here.”
The Golden Eagles, coming off a 40-win season, have made four consecutive NCAA tournaments. Waldrep has been in touch with the program for about a year and a half.
“The coaches are great. The program is great,” Waldrep said. “It’s a great school. It seemed like a nice place. The coaches convinced me they were going to take care of me. I really liked the place and liked the program.”
On his recent visit, he also took in a Southern Miss football game. Waldrep has made his mark in two sports — he’s also a standout kicker and punter for the Bulldogs football team.
“Hurston is a winner,” said Thomasville baseball head coach Erik McDougald. "He’s a winner on the baseball diamond. He’s a winner in life. He's going to be very successful there and successful in whatever he does.”
McDougald said Waldrep is stubborn — and he meant that as a compliment.
“When he puts his mind to something, he is not going to back down until he accomplishes that task he’s put in front of him,” the coach said. “He’s a competitor. It doesn’t matter if he’s good at it or bad at it, he wants to compete. That’s a lot of what has made him successful and has brought him to this point.”
Waldrep has been playing baseball since he was 6 and invited his youth coaches to be a part of his signing day.
On the mound, the pitch he goes to when he needs to get an out is a circle changeup. A pitching coach recommended that to him when he was 12 and he watched YouTube videos on how to perfect the grip and throw it.
Between now and when he goes to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Waldrep still has the Class AA state football playoffs and a promising senior season for the Diamond Dogs.
“We’re really looking forward to going along with it,” he said.
Editor Pat Donahue can be reached at (229) 226-2400 ext. 1806.