Pell City seniors Cole Billingsley and Dylan Calhoun may not know Powell’s quote, but they have put in years of hard work and they are now beginning to reap the rewards.
On Friday, in front of a full auditorium in the Pell City Center Billingsley signed a letter of intent to play baseball at the University of South Alabama and Calhoun signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff.
“Cole and Dylan are two of the finest young men that you could meet,” Pell City head coach Andrew Tarver said. “They are the type of kids that you would love for your daughter to bring home and maybe a have a relationship with. Baseball-wise these kids work hard every single day. We work out in sixth period for an hour and they want to go after school and work out some more. Those are the type of guys that you have to shut down and keep an eye on them because they may be working too hard.”
Billingsley verbally committed to USA as a junior. Billingsley, who won gold medal in the 16U team in the Pan American games said this ranks as one of his top accomplishments thus far.
“This means a lot,” Billingsley said. “From eighth grade all the way through high school I dreamt of this kind of stuff. I worked hard for it. This is a big accomplishment. All the hard work has paid off. I am just really happy and excited.”
Billingsley credits head coach Mark Calvi as being one of the main reasons he choose USA.
Calvi is a first year head coach, he came from the University of South Carolina where they reached the NCAA Regional every year, advanced to three Super Regionals and claimed the College World Series title in 2010 and 2011.
“The head coach really sold me,” Billingsley said. “He sounded really determined in what he wanted to do and I really want to be a part of what he wants to do. He really sold me. It is a beautiful atmosphere down there and it is close to a beach. I got to talk to some of the players and they talked about how much they loved it and that really sold it for me.
Calhoun is elated about having the opportunity to play baseball at UA-PB for the next four years.
“It is extremely exciting,” Calhoun said. “We play a lot of good teams out there. We have the 24th toughest out-of-conference schedule in the country. It is going to be a good next four years of my life.”
Last season, Calhoun had a batting average of .337, with 33 hits on 98 attempts and 22 RBI’s. Calhoun said UA-PB gave him an offer that he simply couldn’t refuse.
“The offer was a very good offer,” Calhoun said. “It is pretty much a full ride. It is a great atmosphere and they have great coaches.”
Both players said getting this done for the season took a lot weight off their shoulders. Tarver said he will need his two seniors to have a stellar season if they want to go to the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
“This upcoming year Dylan is going start right field for us,” Tarver said. “He is going to bat third, fourth, fifth or sixth somewhere in there. He has tremendous bat speed; he has a great idea at the plate and also has decent wheels at right field. Cole Billingsley is going to be our No. 1 pitcher for us this year. We expect him to have a tremendous year at the plate and also in center field.”
This is the Panthers fourth player to sign a college baseball scholarship in the last two seasons.
“Blake (Fuller) and Locke (St. John) signed last year signed with Southern Union and Cole and Dylan this year,” Tarver said. “It is possible that we can have two or three more signing this year. It shows that hard work will take you a lot of places and college is one of them. These guys never stopped. They had goals in mind and they reached them.”