Former Rockford Ram and current GRCC pitcher, Austin Stephens, recently signed a national letter of intent to continue his education and baseball career at North Carolina Central in Durham, NC. The deadline for the NCAA early signing period was Wednesday, November 21st and Stephens wanted to have his decision made by then. “It feels good to have it behind me. After the visits and evaluations of other schools, this just seems right.”
North Carolina Central is a smaller division one school and plays in the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference. Their program is on the rebound under a new coaching staff and they wanted to make Stephens a big part of that turnaround. Stephens is expected to continue in his closing role or perhaps transition to a conference starter. Head Coach, Jim Koerner, liked that they had that flexibility with the former Ram left-hander.
“I was hoping to go to a warmer climate and Durham definitely fits that criteria,” Stephens said. “The coaching staff was really impressive as well. One of the keys for me was to have a head coach and, especially, a pitching coach that had a process in place for getting the most out of their guys. The coaching staff at NCCU is definitely the right fit. It doesn’t hurt that our home field is the former Durham Bulls stadium where the movie Bull Durham was shot.”
NCCU has already placed Stephens in the highly touted Coastal Plains summer collegiate baseball league beginning in June. He will compete on a team in Wilson, NC. The league has been ranked in the top five collegiate summer baseball leagues in the nation and plays at sites throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.