FAIRMONT — For Ryan Mayers, hard work on the ballfield and classroom has paid off.
After signing with Southeastern Community College in early August, the former Fairmont baseball standout gave credit to his high school coaching staff for helping him stay on the right track.
“(The coaches) stayed on me and didn’t let me slack,” Mayers said. “It taught me to have a good work ethic and stay focused.”
Now Mayers is taking his talents to Whiteville to play junior college baseball for the Rams.
“It feels great,” he said. “It’s an honor (to be able) to play at the next level.”
In the two years Sandy Thorndyke had Mayers in his program, the Fairmont baseball coach said Mayers’ growth as a student is what stands out most.
“When he got here, we wondered about eligibility,” Thorndyke said. “Changing some things was his biggest improvement in that time.”
But Thorndyke was also quick to point out Mayers’ contributions on the field.
“He was a really good addition to our team,” Thorndyke said. “(Mayers) will be a hard guy to replace because of his speed and hitting.
“He had a really good senior year, that’s the biggest thing. He’s coachable and plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
An all-conference and all-county performer, Mayers served as the Golden Tornadoes’ primary leadoff hitter and second baseman. During his senior campaign, he finished with a .319 batting average, 30 hits and 26 runs scored. The speedster was also one of three Robeson County players to finish the season with 14 stolen bases.
His contributions helped the Golden Tornadoes win their first Slugfest championship since 1997 and the Three Rivers Conference tournament title against Whiteville — the eventual 1A state champion. He also helped the squad advance to the regional semifinals of the NCHSAA 2A state playoffs.
As he prepares for his first year competing in the National Junior College Athletic Association, Mayers said he already has plans to eventually play ball closer to home.
“My goals are to finish my two years at SCC and transfer to UNCP,” he said.
Mayers is the eighth county player from the class of 2015 to commit to the Rams. Ironeyes Locklear (Purnell Swett), Austin Locklear (Lumberton), and five Red Springs players — Eric McMillan, Cody Harris, Maliq Johson, Brad Hardin and Jaquan McLaurin — are also set to play for SCC this spring.
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.