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Gavin Black’s college destination is a familiar place.

The North Oconee High School senior baseball player signed with the Florida SouthWestern program in a ceremony held last month. Though he’s never competed for the Buccaneers, Black has played on their home field.

Black got that opportunity with his travel ball team during the summer. That experience helped convince black to sign with FSW despite holding other offers.

“I ended up playing down there in their stadium before I even knew it was their stadium,” Black said. “Then after our game, I got to try out. The coaches, meeting them in person the first time, they really gave me that sense that this is where I'm gonna end up and that this is home away from home. I just know that leaving [North Oconee] after having the support system here, I'm gonna go there and have the same thing. That's great to be able to mature and grow as a player and a person.”

Black formally signed to accept the scholarship offer last month in a ceremony held inside North Oconee’s field house. He was joined by several family members, friends, teammates and coaches.

For Black, the signing event marked the culmination of a dream he’s had for years.

“I think I started playing tee ball at 4,” Black said. “When you hear about the MLB and going pro, I think everybody dreams about that. But getting to college, that's the next step.”

Jay Lasley, North Oconee’s head baseball coach, spoke during the signing event.

Lasley told the large crowd about Black’s adaptability, pointing out that Black has contributed to the Titans at multiple positions.

Black primarily pitches and catches, but Lasley said the Titans senior can make an impression anywhere on the field.

“Everywhere you put this guy, all he does is make teams better,” Lasley said. “When he moves on to the college level, it'll be interesting to see where he ends up because he is so versatile and he can do a lot of things on the field. He's a fun guy to watch.”

Black said he does not have much preference to his position with the Buccaneers, whether that sets him on the mound, behind the plate or both.

“It's open-ended,” Black said. “I'm committed to do both, so I'll have the option. I feel like wherever God takes me is what I'll end up doing, just knowing when it's right and when to make the final call on what I want to do.”

Black said he is undecided on what he wants to study while in college.

When it comes to his on-field work, however, Black said he’s laid out clear goals for himself.

“Hopefully, we'll get up the fastball a little bit,” Black said. “Just be the best I can be. Every day, go out and work on and off the field, in the weight room, during practice and come out and be the best player, do great and make everybody else around me great.”

The Titans have enjoyed great success throughout Black’s tenure with the program.

They reached the Final Four round of the state playoffs in 2019. Their 2020 season was cut short due to COVID-19 but, in 2021, they again advanced into the Final Four.

Black said he anticipates the next phase of his career but he will look back fondly on his time at North Oconee.

“It's sad but then again it's happy,” Black said. “You leave all these other things behind to move on, but you can never really forget where you came from and the things that made you and got you to this point. I feel like it's nothing but happy vibes coming out of high school and heading on and signing.”

Of course, Black has one more season remaining before his graduation.

He and the Titans have one goal in mind as they approach the 2022 campaign: winning the Class AAAA state title.

“Getting that ring. I think that's our goal,” he said. “But we've got to ‘W.I.N.’ first – ‘What's important now’ as Coach Lasley would say. That's what we've got to focus on day by day. It's all we can do. In the end if we do those things and we do them right, then we'll end up where we want to be and get that ring in the end.”

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