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Putnam County senior Cody Ballerini (seated, center) signs to play baseball at Lake Land College. He was joined at the signing by (seated, left to right) Lake Land coach Bill Jackson and Putnam County coach Dave Garcia along with his parents Larry Ballerini and Debbie Jones. NewsTribune photo/Kevin Chlum
First-year Lake Land College baseball coach Bill Jackson is looking to restore the Lakers tradition — which includes a national championship and former MLB player Gary Gaetti as an alumnus — by bringing in hard-working players.
So he targeted Putnam County’s Cody Ballerini, a three-time NewsTribune All-Area selection.
“We got hooked up with Cody because (PC baseball) coach (Dave) Garcia called me and had a lot of real good things to say. He said he’s a real hard-working kid,” Jackson said. “When we came in, there wasn’t very much discipline and guys didn’t really understand how to work, so we’re looking for those hard-working kids, good kids who can come in and help change the program back. Bringing in a kid like Cody who has the work ethic and has what we’re really looking for is something we can really build around.”
Ballerini looked at several schools before settling on the junior college in Mattoon, Ill. He signed his Letter of Intent on Monday.
“I chose Lake Land because it fit me best,” said Ballerini, who is undecided on his major. “They gave me a really good offer. I really like the coaches. I’m ready for the next chapter in my life.”
Ballerini has hit .431 or better in each of his three seasons for the Panthers. As a junior, Ballerini hit .450 with 47 RBIs, 32 runs and 10 doubles.
“He’s hit in the middle of our lineup since he was a freshman,” Garcia said. “I think he’s going to be able to make the transition to college pitching very well. He’s always been able to hit. He’s hit at every level. He’s a good kid. He works hard. I think Lake Land will be very pleased when they see him in the fall.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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