Harrell makes transition

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 30, 2007

AHOSKIE – Going to college requires adjustment: learning to deal with a new roommate, to wake up and go to class when no one makes you, to study even when going to a party sounds like more fun and to budget money for food, fun, books and anything else that might come up.

For an athlete, the transition could be even harder. Not only must a freshman athlete learn to succeed at college life, a freshman athlete must learn to compete against a high level of competition.

For a baseball player that means facing tougher pitchers, fielding against better hitters, and maybe learning a new position.

Jacob Harrell, who recently completed his freshman season at Elizabeth City State University, adjusted to his role behind the plate while making the CIAA All-Freshmen Team.

Harrell moved away from his natural position of second base when he volunteered to catch some practice innings.

“Coach Terrance Whittle [ECSU’s head coach] asked me if I could catch and I stayed behind the plate,” Harrell said.

Harrell hit .333 his freshman season.

“I feel like I hit the ball a lot better than I thought I would,” Harrell said.

He credits his hitting and his defense for bringing him the CIAA All-Freshmen Team honors.

“I feel privileged to be on it [the CIAA All-Freshman Team],” Harrell said.

Defensive footwork will be Harrell’s main focus this off-season; he committed 11 errors in 121 chances, but he threw out 11 of 38 would-be base stealers.

He also wants to improve his batting.

He hit two homeruns, good enough to be tied for fifth on the team, while driving in 20 RBIs.

“I want to stay in the starting lineup everyday again,” Harrell said.

“I know I can hit higher than .333.”

After his strong freshman season, Harrell is poised to become an even bigger contributor to the Vikings.

“I hope I can get on the All-Conference Team next year, maybe the next few years,” Harrell said.

Harrell attended high school at Lawrence Academy, and he credits many people with helping him achieve his success.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my teammates, Coach

(Robert) Kravitz, and Coach (Tom) Hoggard,” Harrell said. “I got a lot of support from my friends and family.”

Harrell also played with Ahoskie American Legion Post 102 during high school and after his freshman season at ECSU. After the 2007 campaign, he was honored with the Jim “Catfish” Hunter Award as the team’s Most Valuable Player and best leader.

What about college, and how he feels about Elizabeth City State University?

“I love it,” Harrell said.

“I’m going to stay there all four years. I’ve got good teammates and a good coach.

I think we’ll win a few championships.”