April 10, 2010 11:05:00 PM
Adam Minichino - email@example.com
A dream came true for Stefan Hairston on Friday.
Ever since he was a freshman at Columbus High School, Hairston hoped he would mature and progress to realize a chance to play baseball in college.
A solid start to his senior season helped Hairston earn an opportunity to play at Coahoma Community College, and he capitalized on it by signing a national letter of intent to attend the two-year school in Clarksdale.
"I am so proud of this day," Hairston said. "I am so glad this day has happened. I am thankful for my coaches and my friends and family for being here today."
Hairston is hitting .370 with three doubles, one home run, and 13 RBIs for the Falcons (10-10). He is 2-2 with a 1.44 ERA and one save in seven games (three starts, two complete games). He has allowed 22 hits, walked 11, and struck out 21 in 24 1/3 innings.
Hairston admitted to plenty of nervous times wondering if he would get an opportunity. He said he never thought he would sign, but he feels his work ethic helped put him in position to go to CCC.
Columbus High School baseball coach Jeffrey Cook said Hairston worked hard from his junior to his senior season to lose 30 pounds. He said the left fielder/first baseman/pitcher realized he needed to improve to realize an opportunity to continue his baseball career at the next level.
"They''re talking about him pitching a lot, either as a reliever or a part-time starter," Cook said. "They want him to play the outfield, and he could play some first base. I think once he gets into a fall program I think he will jump.
"I really think Coahoma got a steal. I think he has a lot of potential."
Cook likes the fact that five sophomores on CCC''s roster already have secured places to play baseball at four-year schools. He said Coahoma plans to upgrade its baseball facilities, which should help Hairston and his teammates to be improve.
Hairston said a workout regimen filled with plenty of swimming helped him lose the weight. He said he kept hitting and working on his fielding in hopes he would impress college coaches. He feels he has made significant strides from last season, and he hopes to continue his hot start the rest of the 2010 season.
Hairston believes his versatility gives him an edge to earn playing time. He said he would love to pitch at CCC, if given the chance, but he also said he could see playing time at first base or in left field.
Hairston, who also considered Northeast C.C., hopes to use his two years at CCC to earn a chance to play Division I or Division II baseball.
"I think I will be a good asset (to CCC) and I will help them win some games," Hairston said.
Cook agrees. He said Hairston always had potential and is starting to realize more of it thanks to his offseason conditioning.
"The maturing process is just getting started," Cook said. "He is not an overpowering left-handed guy throwing, but he throws strikes and he hits the ball well. He is just doing a great job. ... I told Stefan you get down there, work hard, and that''s what it is about: Keep moving on. Hopefully , he will have that opportunity there."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.