By Chris McCarthy/Editor
Brock Love raised the bar for the Southside High baseball program on Wednesday (Nov. 12).
The Panther senior signed a baseball scholarship with the University of Alabama, becoming the first SHS player to play for a Southeastern Conference team directly out of high school.
Love, who committed to the Crimson Tide in August, chose Alabama over LSU and several other SEC schools.
“I just felt that Alabama was the right fit for me,” said Love. “I thought that it had everything that I was looking for and that I could make an impact on the program very quickly. I’ve visited the campus many times and I love everything about it, from the baseball facilities to the academics. It’s also close to home so my family will be able to come watch me play.
“I don’t know where I’ll fit into the [pitching] rotations just yet, but the coaching staff isn’t going to guarantee any spot for anybody.”
In 46.3 innings last season, Love posted a 2.12 earned run average with 73 strikeouts. At the plate, he accumulated 27 hits, 22 runs and 20 RBI as the Panthers finished with a 34-10 record and a final state regular season ranking of No. 4. Southside won its area and county tournaments and gained a berth in the Class 5A state quarterfinals.
Love played in several national showcase games this past summer, including tournaments in Syracuse, N.Y., and Jupiter, Fla.
According to SHS head baseball coach Blake Bone, Love received legitimate baseball scholarship offers from virtually every SEC and ACC program.
“The SEC is the mecca of all conferences, so this is a big accomplishment,” said Bone. “Brock’s always been special in terms of his ability and he definitely has the tools to succeed at that level. Brock’s got a very smooth delivery that doesn’t put a lot of pressure on his arm, and that will equal more velocity down the road when he puts in some weight and gets stronger. Plus, Brock’s really matured after going through the recruiting process.”
Bone added that if Love’s velocity jumps a few notches this spring, he could be taken in the 2015 Major League Baseball draft.
Love join a UA squad that last season went 37-24 and made it to the championship game of the NCAA Regional Tournament in Tallahassee, Fla.
“I want to thank God and everyone here for making my dream a reality,” said Love. “My mom and my dad and my sister have been with me every step of the way. Signing today just put everything into perspective of how special it really is. Roll Tide!”