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Oliver signs with St. Andrews

MERRY HILL – It’s over before it started.

That’s the way Lawrence Academy senior Daniel Oliver wanted it.

The pitcher/first baseman for the defending state champion Warrior baseball team committed to play at St. Andrews College Thursday, thus finishing his college pursuits before the 2009 prep baseball campaign begins.

“I’m really glad to be done with it so I can enjoy my senior year and my senior season,” Oliver said. “It’s good to know where I’m going to I don’t have to worry about that.”

St. Andrew’s is a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II school in Laurinburg. The Knights are coming off a 15-37 campaign in 2008 and looking to rebuild under second-year skipper Keith Williams.

It was Williams, his assistant coaches – Jim Blair and Daniel Hadra – and the school that appealed to Oliver when he made his visit to Laurinburg.

“I like the baseball program,” he said. “I was impressed with the coaches, the facilities and everything they’re trying to do.

“I also like the small school atmosphere,” he added. “It’s like Lawrence in that it’s small so I don’t think it will be that big of a transition.”

Oliver will have the opportunity to both pitch and play first base when he arrives at St. Andrew’s, something that was important to him.

“It’s a good opportunity for me,” he said. “I wanted the chance to do both. I don’t know which I would have chosen if I was forced to. I’m glad I don’t have to choose.”

Oliver’s coach at Lawrence, Robert Kravitz, also said the chance to play both positions would be key for Oliver.

“I think he’s fortunate to have the opportunity to pitch and play first base,” Kravitz said. “That works well for him. Not too many colleges will allow that, but I think a program on the rise like St. Andrews will benefit from allowing him to do that.”

Winning is something Oliver is accustomed to, having played with the Warriors since his freshman season. During that three-year span, Lawrence has finished second twice and then won the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association 1-A baseball championship in 2008.

“It took a lot of pressure off my senior season,” Oliver said of the state title. “It seemed every time we finished second, it just added to the pressure. Of course, now we have a new type of pressure in trying to defend it.”

As he looks forward to that senior season, Oliver said he couldn’t hope for much more than a repeat of his junior campaign when his team won a state title and he was named All-Tarheel Independent Conference, TIC Player of the Year and was a member of the All-State team for the NCISAA.

“It would be nice to have another season like last year, and hopefully even improve on it,” Oliver said.

Kravitz said he was simply looking for Oliver to continue to be the player he had become.

“I expect him to be himself,” Kravitz stated. “I know he will work hard to be the best he can and that his hard work will rub off on the others. I just expect him to play like he always has.”

Whatever the outcome of the senior season, Oliver already knows where he will be playing in 2010 and that’s at St. Andrews College.