Mar. 29—VALDOSTA — Valdosta High baseball is sending one of its stars to play for the Vikings.
Wildcats senior pitcher and outfielder Elijah Guilliams signed with St. Johns River State College on Wednesday.
The son of Valdosta State head baseball coach Greg Guilliams, Elijah cites his relationship with St. Johns River coach Ross Jones and the players that have played for his father from the program as his prime reasons for signing with the Vikings.
"Their baseball program is really good," Elijah said of choosing the school. "The coach, I've known him for a little while and my dad has had some players from there and they've all turned out really good. It's in a good location and they gave me a pretty good offer. I just felt like it was the right move for me."
In an emotional moment, Coach Guilliams talked about what baseball meant to his late wife, Amy, and what Elijah's signing means to his family.
Guilliams also touched on the importance of getting an education and how earning a scholarship gives his son an opportunity to set his future in motion.
"It's tough not having Elijah's mom here, Amy," Guilliams said, choking back tears. "When I met her, she had two passions: She worked at NASA with aerospace and baseball. ... She loved baseball.
"Ultimately, as a father, the education is first and foremost for me. I'm thankful and appreciative that Elijah gets a scholarship to help pay for that education. An education does not guarantee success, but what education does do is open up opportunities, opportunities that a lot of us have been fortunate to benefit from. He gets an opportunity to play baseball. What he does with that, what he does with having the opportunity for an education, that all falls back on him."
This season, Elijah and the 'Cats are 12-8 overall and 3-2 in Region 1-6A after splitting with Houston County on Friday.
After Elijah's signing, Valdosta head coach Brad Porter spoke of what the signing means to him and the Wildcat baseball program.
"It's been a pleasure to see a young man come in and develop and continue to get better," Porter said. "We're just excited. He's going to play at a good baseball school. He's going to play for a really good baseball coach. We're just excited that he was able to continue to grow while he was with us and the future's unlimited if he'll go in and work hard. He's going to be able to do great things if he goes in with the right mindset."
When asked what makes Elijah such a special player, Porter added, "He has a tremendous amount of ability, a tremendous amount of talent. He has a natural strength when he hits the baseball and then he's a left-handed pitcher that understands how to pitch. If he just continues to develop those attributes, we think the sky's the limit."
Though his mother was not able to see him sign on Wednesday, Elijah knows his mother would be proud. Once he graduates in May, his goal is to arrive on campus and put his best foot forward in the classroom and on the field.
"It means a lot to me, especially about my mom," Elijah said of signing with St. Johns River. "Her biggest thing was getting to see me play baseball and if she was here right now, she'd be really happy for me. St. Johns, they're a really good baseball program down in Florida and I hope to go there and do my best and hopefully, make it somewhere bigger after that."