THOMASVILLE -- One of Thomasville's own is pitching his way to the big leagues. Or so he hopes.
From his high school days at Thomasville to his recent college days at Auburn University, Levale Speigner has been a dominant force on the pitching mound.
He has since taken that dominance to the next level, pitching for the Elizabethton Twins, a Class A affiliate in Elizabethton, Tenn.
Speigner is one of 16 pitchers on the staff. Like his time at the Auburn, he is relogated to the spot where he was familiar with during his senior year.
"They've got me closing right now," Speigner said. "I knew going in that I would be a relief pitcher."
Unlike at Auburn, however, Speigner is only seeing action every third or fourth day. With so many pitchers on the roster, Speigner has only played in six or seven games.
Speigner has had to adjust to facing new hitters, players he's never seen before.
At least he can take solace in knowing that these players are not swinging the dangerous aluminum bats.
"It's a little bit different. You can get away with a few more bad pitches here than you could in college," Speigner said, "because they had aluminum bats, and if you made a mistake, then they'll hit you."
Speigner finished his career at Auburn with the Tigers getting knocked out of the NCAA tournament.
He then had to wait to see if he would be taken in the draft.
He was uncertain of the interest in him.
"I really had no idea," Speigner said.
"(The Twins) talked to me once, just touching base. I talked to about three or four other teams."
Then came the much-anticipated draft day.
Speigner received the long-awaited call all major league hopefuls dream about receiving.
"They called me that afternoon on the first draft day. I was actually at the pool," Speigner said. "It was really exciting. I didn't really know I would go on the first day."
Speigner was selected by the Twins in the 14th round.
After years of playing most of his games in the afternoon, Speigner soon had to face the fact of playing nearly all his games at night, which proved to be quite an adjustment at the beginning of his professional career. Speigner now endures days when he doesn't report to the ballpark until 2:00 p.m. and not get home until 10:30 or 11 p.m.
"During the first couple of weeks, it was really tiring," Speigner said. "I had to get used to the atmosphere and the grind every day.
"It took a little time to get used to, but I'm kind of getting a routine."
While the routine proved to be a struggle at first, it was made easier considering where Speigner is now living. In fact, it was as if Speigner had never left home.
"It's a small town. It's a little smaller than Thomasville," Speigner said. "It really isn't a hole lot different than Thomasville. We have our devoted fans."
The population in Elizabethton is a little more than 13,000, far less than Thomasville's which numbers around 20,000.
Among the 13,000 was a family that soon captured Speigner's heart. He was fortunate to find a home with a host family with three other teammates
"It helps save a little bit of money. We have to pay a little bit of rent," Speigner said.
After those long days at the ballpark, even when Speigner and his teammates don't get home until late in the evening, there is normally a nice, warm meal waiting for them.
"She takes care of us really well," Speigner said. "We get home cooked meals. We got lucky."
Though Speigner is just starting his road to the major leagues, he intends on fulfilling the dream and one day toe the rubber on baseball's highest level.
"It's really always been a dream," Speigner said.
This Week's Circulars
- Six suspects arrested, two pounds of drugs seized
- Box-cutter wielding assault suspect still at large
- Two dead in Grady County wreck
- Chastain kicks off District 2 City Council candidacy by listening
- Thomasville native Council promoted to major general
- My long journey back home
- Fond memories of The Bottom recalled at documentary premiere
- City abuzz with two local film productions
- Joiner to represent Thomas County at Miss Georgia Forestry Pageant
- Treehouse fundraiser Oakfest ready to take the stage again
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