ROCKINGHAM — Ryan Mercer knew he wanted to keep playing baseball after throwing his final pitch in a Richmond Raider uniform last weekend.
He just wasn’t sure he was going to get an opportunity. Now he will.
Mercer surrounded by his family and coaches signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Brevard College Wednesday afternoon.
“They gave me a chance,” Mercer said. “No one else really recruited me. They contacted me in the fall and stayed in touch.”
Brevard finished with a 27-23 overall record and were third in the South Atlantic Conference with a 16-11 mark. Since joining the NCAA as a Division II member, this season was the first time the Tornadoes finished above .500. Brevard was 10-38 in 2008, 10-32 the following year, 9-35 in 2010 and 14-28 last season.
“They’re a really good program on the rise,” Mercer said.
Mercer blossomed in his senior season, slugging a team-high three home runs, including a two-run shot in Game 3 of the 4A East Region championship series against Middle Creek. He was one of four Raiders named to the All-Southeastern Conference team.
“This year Ryan really stepped up into a leadership role,” Richmond coach Ricky Young said. “We expected him to pitch a great deal and to be the anchor for us in the middle of the lineup. He had a great year on the mound and hit in a tough spot in the lineup.”
Young added he believes Mercer will continue to improve over the next four years.
“When he was a sophomore, it was my first year here, I saw the potential in him,” Young said. “It was going to take maturing and working hard in the weight room. He did that and was open to coaching.
“I think he’s been the ultimate player any coach would like to have on their team.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com