First Presbyterian Christian Academy’s Richard Lovelady will be slinging baseballs for East Georgia State College after signing a national letter of intent Monday morning at the school.
“It’s a dream come true,” Lovelady said. “I’ve always wanted to play at the next level, and the fact that someone is giving the opportunity to go out there and show what I can do is a miracle. I want to thank all the coaches I’ve had because they are the ones that got me to where I am today.”
Lovelady said he enjoys the game so much he plans to study to become an athletic/physical trainer, “because I always want to be around the game.”
Richard’s mother, Julie Lovelady, said he wants to use this opportunity to prepare for furthering his educational and baseball career at a Division I school in the future. EGSC competes in the National Junior College Athletics Association, according to that group’s website.
This season, Lovelady has a 3-2 record with 25 strikeouts, 17 walks and a 6.01 earned-run average. Lovelady also has been a solid hitter for the Highlanders, currently holding a .552 average with 12 runs, 21 hits, six doubles, three singles and 20 RBIs. He leads the Highlanders in extra base hits, RBIs and batting average, according to stats provided by FPCA coach Andy Yanzetich.
EGSC baseball coach Chuck Lusted, who attended the signing ceremony, said Lovelady had worked out at EGSC, and he liked what he saw.
“He had a live arm off the mound, and being left-handed always helps,” Lusted said. “There are not that many talented left-handers out there, especially one that can throw strikes, and he did a good job and we are happy to be having him.”
Lusted said the Bobcats have recruited a couple of players from Liberty County in the past who were a big part of growing the baseball program, which is in its third year. He said Lovelady will adjust to the faster tempo of college baseball.
“It ramps up a little bit and the speed of the game is a little bit faster, and when you get to college, everybody on your team was the great player from their high-school team,” Lusted said. “So now you have a whole team of great players so you have to blend in and play more of a team game and know your role, and that is what we use fall practice for — to determine the roles of the players.”
“Richard had a plan at the beginning of the school year. He wanted to sign, and he wanted to play at the next level,” Yanzetich said. “He had a couple of offers and places he was looking at, and this seems to be the best fit for him and what he wants to do, so it works out.”
Lovelady’s father, Richard Sr., said when his son first told him he wanted to try out to play high-school baseball, he thought he was too small.
“But he made it, and he has continued to progress,” Richard Lovelady Sr. said. “It’s the greatest thing ever. He’s been thinking about this since the eighth grade.”
“Today is very special,” Julie Lovelady said. “Richard has worked hard for this, and this was a long time coming, and he deserves this.”
She said she offered some advice to her son, telling him to stay focused on his academic studies.
“Because you still have to maintain your grades to play ball,” she said. “Education is still No. 1 in our family.”