By Marty Gordon
Three more local athletes have signed letters of intent to play baseball at the next level.
Auburn High’s Parker Hale is headed to Concord University in Athens, W.Va. and Auburn’s Reed Underwood and Christiansburg’s Ian Perkins will move on to play baseball for Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) in Cedar Bluff.
Auburn head baseball coach Eric Altizer sang Hale’s praises. “Parker has worked extremely hard to be the best he can be and was an instrumental part of our 2019 state champions,” the coach said.
Like everyone else, Hale’s junior season never really got started earlier this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. During his sophomore year at Auburn, he hit .264 with 18 RBI and 24 runs scored, 14 walks and seven stolen bases. He committed only seven errors in 94 chances at shortstop and set a school record with 51 assists for a season.
This past summer, he was able to hit the diamond with several showcase travel teams, batting .415 with 18 doubles and two triples. He plans to major in business management at Concord and is expected to play shortstop.
Underwood chose SWCC because he wanted to go somewhere he could play immediately. “With COVID-19, a lot of colleges didn’t have much roster room,” he said.
A right-handed pitcher, Underwood made a huge impact two years ago for Auburn, throwing 40 1/3 innings and finishing with a 5-2 record and three saves. He recorded 41 strikeouts with a 1.56 ERA, picking up a win and a save in the postseason as the Eagles won another state title. At the plate, he hit .368 with limited at-bats, scoring 22 runs.
Underwood is leaning toward a general studies major.
Perkins, whose brother Alex plays baseball at Radford University, feels the JUCO route will give him the best chance of succeeding on and off the field. His main goal is to move to a Division I or II school to continue playing. This past summer in travel baseball, he batted .438 with five doubles, two triples, one home run, 25 RBIs and 21 runs scored.
Perkins plans to major in physical therapy of sports medicine at SWCC.