LINCOLN-From the moment he held a bat in his hand, Cody Franklin knew he wanted to be a baseball player.
With an unbridled passion for baseball, Franklin grew up with the sport and has become a star for Alcona High School.
He'll get to take his passion and his baseball skills to the collegiate level after he signed a Letter of Intent with Spring Arbor University on Monday.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alcona senior Cody Franklin, seated left, signed his Letter of Intent to play baseball at Spring Arbor University on Monday. Pictured with Franklin from left to right are: his grandmother Sharon Schefferly, his mother Donna Franklin, his father Terry Franklin, his grandfather Richard Schefferly and Spring Arbor baseball coach Sam Riggleman.
"It means a ton because I've always wanted to do it ever since I was little," Franklin said. "Baseball has been a passion to me every since I held a bat in my hand, so it means a lot."
Cougars' coach Sam Riggleman caught wind of Franklin from a couple of Alcona coaches including former boys basketball and baseball coach Seth Coffing, who played for Spring Arbor.
Riggleman saw Franklin play this summer when Franklin was part of a Gaylord sandlot team. He was then invited to a camp at Spring Arbor in July.
As a proponent of two-way players, Riggleman was immediately drawn to Franklin, who will pitch and play center field for the Cougars. As a junior, Franklin was Alcona's staff ace and struck out 113 batters in 54 innings pitched with only 13 runs surrendered and a 1.43 ERA. At the plate, Franklin batted .458 with four triples, four home runs and 12 doubles among 49 hits.
"You're always looking for guys that have skill sets and we're trying to fit them to what our style of play is. The fact that he can run so well is obvious, he has arm strong; he's a two-way guy," Riggleman said. "We saw him play and realized he's a guy that can be a contributor in two different ways for us. The things we're trying to get done on offense is to create pressure and havoc and having guys that can run and do that, that's skill in and of itself is very important to us."
Franklin will join a talented team that reached the NCCAA Midwest Regional last season and finished 27-18, while coming up just short of a NCCAA World Series berth. From 2007-09, the Cougars made appearances in the NAIA World Series and won conference, regional and super-regional titles.
Franklin plans to follow in the footsteps of his father and baseball coach Terry and study physical education at Spring Arbor.
Monday was a proud moment for Terry and his wife Donna as they saw the results of Cody's hard work in athletics come to fruition.
"It's just a great thing for us. It all started when he was young, we always preached dedication and hard work and it'll pay off. It's paying off and I'm really happy to be a part of it," Terry said.
Fresh off a football season where he helped lead Alcona to a 10-1 record and rushed for more than 1,000 yards, Cody will turn his attention to the upcoming baseball season where a veteran Alcona team has some unfinished business.
The Tigers won their second consecutive district title last season with Cody nearly throwing a perfect game in a district semifinal win over Mio. Alcona advanced to the regional semifinals where Cody was tagged for four hits and walked eight in a loss, but Franklin was also Alcona's leading hitter, going 3-for-4 with a triple.
"I expect a lot of our upcoming season. We've got all of our pitchers back and we'll get back into the gym this winter, start hitting and getting everyone back up to par," Cody said. "Hopefully we start where we left off."
James Andersen can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.