Anticipation erupted into shrieks of joy and excitement at the Hinesville home of former Liberty County and First Presbyterian Christian Academy baseball player Richard Lovelady.
Friday, during the Major League Baseball draft, Lovelady’s name was announced over the computer speakers the family had on as they livestreamed the picks.
Lovelady, a 10th-round pick was the 313th overall player chosen by the Kansas City Royals.
“It was pure jubilation,” mom Julie Lovelady said. “We were hugging and crying.”
Lovelady started playing baseball at age 7 at the Liberty County Recreation Department.
In high school, he played at Liberty County and then FPCA where he made first team All-Region in 2012 and 2013. Lovelady earned a scholarship to East Georgia State to start his college career. Even then, the left-handed pitcher knew it was going to be a stepping stone for bigger things ahead.
After his sophomore year at EGSC, Lovelady signed to play at Kennesaw State, becoming the first Bobcat to go on to play for a Division I university, according to a news release issued by EGSC.
This past season for the Owls, Lovelady finished the season ranked in the top three in the NCAA in appearances, according to stats posted on the school’s athletic website. He also ranked second in KSU D-I program history for most appearances in a single season (37). He finished with a 4-3 record and a 2.96 ERA, tossed 45.2 innings and tallied four saves.
Lovelady struck out 52 batters, allowed 25 walks and held opponents to a .186 batting average. In the Atlantic Sun Conference, he posted a 2-0 mark and a 0.96 ERA in 14 appearances and held opponents to a .136 batting average in conference action.
During the offseason, Lovelady kept his game up. During his high school years ,he played for the Savannah Chain. In college he played for the Ocean State Waves of the New England Collegiate Baseball League in summer 2015.
For the Waves, Lovelady was 3-0 with five saves and a 1.90 ERA in 28.1 innings. He struck out 28 batters on the summer. According to a news release on the Waves’ website general manager Matt Finlayson called Lovelady, “The best reliever in Waves’ history.”
Lovelady made the
NECBL Southern Division All-Star Team that season.
Still reeling from the excitement the family, his mother; father, Richard Sr.; brother, Michael; and sisters, Christina and Sarah; celebrated briefly as they got Lovelady packed and ready to go.
By Sunday, the family was in Atlanta, seeing Lovelady off at the airport. Tears were shed as the family watched him head down the airport runway.
Lovelady flew out to Phoenix, where he reported to the Royals for Instructional League training Monday.
Julie Lovelady said her son would likely remain in Arizona for about a week. Then he will receive his next assignment, either in Idaho or North Carolina, where he will train for the remainder of the summer.