CONYERS - Located alongside the Heritage baseball press box is a list of 80 names, alumni who have extended their careers at the collegiate and/or pro level.
Heritage pitching sensation Anthony Bazzani will up that number to 81 after signing to play at Eastern Kentucky University.
From the moment he stepped foot on campus, Bazzani said he knew the decision was the right one.
"I took my visit up there and loved the school immediately," Bazzani said. "The campus is beautiful, and I got to hang out with the guys, who were all super nice. I was just looking to go and play ball at the next level. The coaches there are real nice, and it was just nice to go up there and have some people help me play at the next level.
"It's super exciting; I can't believe it."
Bazzani, a 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher, is coming off a solid season for the Patriots. As a junior, he went 9-2 with a 0.92 earned run average and 66 strikeouts.
As a result, he was named All-Area Co-Pitcher of the Year on The Citizen's 2008 All-Area baseball team.
"Many of our recruiting goals have been achieved by adding quality arms to our pitching staff and a couple of left-handed hitters to our lineup," Eastern Kentucky coach Jason Stein said. "This recruiting class is a great foundation for what we want to do here in the years to come."
For Stein, it is his first recruiting class at Eastern Kentucky, which includes three high school players and a trio of junior college transfers.
"The class is a good mix," Stein said. "Assistant coaches Jerry Edwards and Cory Whitby worked extremely hard in a short amount of time to get these quality players, and they deserve a lot of credit. We expect all six of these student-athletes to be major contributors to our program in the near future."
At Eastern Kentucky, Bazzani will play alongside Salem graduate Dustin Dunlop, who was also named to the 2008 All-Area first team. Dunlop signed with the Colonels in August.
"The whole (Heritage) baseball program is all really good," Bazzani said. "The coaches are coaches on the field, but off the field you can talk to them like it's no problem. It's good to have them tell you what you're doing wrong and what you need to do, but then also have other players there with you that you can have a good time with.
"When the game's over, you grow with the coaches and stuff like that," he added. "It's a great program, and I'm really going to miss it."
In his sophomore campaign, Bazzani was 8-2 with a 1.71 ERA.
He has helped Heritage to three straight Region 8-AAAA titles, including a 2007 state runner-up finish.
"We're going to have another great team this year," Bazzani said. "I think it's just as good or even better than the last two teams we've had. The coaches will know what to do - I would expect to go pretty far this year."
Jason Murdock can be reached at email@example.com.