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East County Wednesday, May. 26, 2010 7 years ago

Centerfielder inks ODA's first baseball scholarship

by: Jen Blanco Sports Editor

SARASOTA — Sean Fleeman has been dreaming of playing collegiate baseball ever since he was a little kid.

But it wasn’t until two weeks ago that The Out-of-Door Academy senior centerfielder turned his dream into a reality. On May 12, during ODA’s baseball banquet, Fleeman signed a letter-of-intent to play baseball for Limestone College in Gaffney, S.C.

“It feels good knowing I’m going to be on a team next year,” Fleeman said of signing with the Division II Saints.

In addition to fulfilling his childhood dream, Fleeman also became the first player to sign a baseball scholarship at ODA.

“Hopefully we’ll have more to come,” he said. “I feel like no matter what happens, this just shows that ODA kids can play in college.”

ODA coach Mike Verrill agreed.

“Somebody had to be first, and it couldn’t have happened to a better kid,” he said. “Anytime you have a player (go on to play) college baseball, it helps your program. Now they’ll want to aspire to do what Sean did.

“It’s a big accomplishment for any kid,” Verrill added. “There are (roughly) 40,000 kids playing high school baseball and a very small percentage get college scholarships, so it means a lot to our school.”

Fleeman began playing baseball when he was 5 years old, gradually working his way up through the Little League system before joining the ODA baseball team. Last season, Fleeman helped propel the Thunder to a Class 1A-District 12 championship.

In his final season with the Thunder, Fleeman maintained a .421 batting average and had 24 stolen bases while leading ODA to the Class 2A-District 11 semifinals.

“The kid was born with great speed, but it took an awful lot of hard work,” Verrill said of Fleeman. “It’s not an easy process. A lot of kids talk about it, but you have to have the mind-set that in order to get there, you have to work harder than the next guy.

“Sean’s very coach-able, and every year, he got better and better,” he added. “It takes a lot. This doesn’t happen by accident.”

Fleeman, who plans to double major in business management and sports management, also looked the University of Southern Maine, the University of Southern New Hampshire, Francis Marion University and Barry University before deciding to sign with Limestone College.

“I like the area of South Carolina, and the coaches made me feel at home when I met them,” Fleeman said. “It’s going to be a lot more work, but I’m just excited to meet my new teammates and hopefully play a few games as a freshman.”

Fleeman plans to spend the remainder of the summer playing travel ball before heading up to South Carolina in August to meet his teammates and begin his off-season conditioning program.

Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].

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