You never forget your first love. For Cale Stricklin, he fell in love with baseball at the age of 7.

“I remember some play happened, someone got thrown out and I was running up and down the dugout trying to see if he was out or safe,” Stricklin said. “I was just so into it and so competitive, and I knew that I wanted to play the game for a long time and be around it for the rest of my life.”

That love never faded. Stricklin, a recently graduated senior from North Oconee, loves baseball so much that he doesn’t plan to stop playing anytime soon. He’s committed to play at the University of Georgia next spring.

“It’s a really high-level conference, playing in the SEC with the best of the best,” Stricklin said. “I get to stay close to home with all of my friends and family being around here, and it’s a place where I can go play and become a better player.”

Stricklin will have a friend joining him at UGA, teammate Wyatt Land. Stircklin, a catcher, and Land, a pitcher, have formed a close bond as teammates that they’ll look to carry into college. The two will be roomates during their first year of college. “It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Stricklin excitedly said. 

He leaves North Oconee as one of the most decorated Titans of all time. He’s a two time state champion and was named Region 8 AAAA player of the year his senior season. Even with all of the accomplishments, Stricklin says the thing he’ll miss the most is practice with his teammates.

“It’s a really simple thing during the season, but as I graduate, I realized that was some of the most fun I’ve ever had on a baseball field,” Stricklin said. “Winning two state championships was nice too,” he quickly added.

Going out on top was an incredible feeling for Stricklin. “It’s such a great way to go out, being a senior and knowing that you did everything you could to win, and you did it for your team and your community” he said. “It just means a whole lot.”

Stricklin truly did everything he could to win in the playoffs. In postseason, he batted .647 with 8 RBIs while also pitching 5.2 innings and striking out 6 hitters. Most impressively, he came in to close out the final three innings of the deciding game in the state championship.

“When coach Lasley went out to the mound to make a pitching change, he looked at me and asked if I was good to go, and my heart starting beating a little faster,” he said. “There were a few more nerves since it was the state championship, but once I got settled in it was just focusing on the mitt and throwing it right at them.”

For about as long as he can remember, Cale Stricklin has been in love with baseball. From running around the dugout as a 7-year-old boy to winning state championships, that love hasn’t faded, and will stick with him through college, and the rest of his life. After all, how can you not be romantic about baseball?

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