Morgan County senior Jaron Ferguson will continue playing baseball in college
For Jaron Ferguson, it was an easy decision.
The Morgan County senior baseball player signed a scholarship to continue playing at LaGrange College. Ferguson formally signed during a ceremony held in the MCHS auditorium last Thursday.
Afterward, Ferguson said he instantly felt a connection when he visited the campus.
“They say when you know it's the one, you know it's the one,” Ferguson said. “I went there and their coaching staff is amazing. They like to win. They've got a really good baseball program going on there, they're a really good team, and I felt like, if I go there, I'd be most successful, not only on the baseball field but in the classroom, too.”
Those positive feelings regarding LaGrange’s academics and baseball team were enough to sell him on the idea of signing with the Panthers.
Ferguson was recruited by a handful of different schools. He listed Valdosta State, Northwest Florida State and Piedmont College as other colleges that offered him scholarships.
In addition to the scholarship offer he got from the baseball program, Ferguson is also in the running for additional academics-based aid.
“They already sent me a nice scholarship. It was a good one,” Ferguson said. “I went to presidential scholarship weekend. They bring a lot of their students there and they give out a lot of money there for people who do good in the classroom.”
Merritt Ainslie, the Diamond Dogs’ head coach, led Thursday’s ceremony. He talked about Ferguson’s career and all of the things he’s done on the field.
Ainslie recalled that one of his assistants, Crandall Stamps, coached Ferguson during his middle school career. Stamps moved up to the high school program around the same time Ferguson did.
Stamps vouched for Ferguson to immediately join the varsity squad. Ainslie said it didn’t take long for Ferguson to make his mark.
“Coach Stamps has always spoken very highly of Jaron and what a great athlete he was,” Ainslie said. “You could just look at Jaron and tell he was physically well-built, had been in the weight room a good bit and was a strong kid, even as a freshman. We knew he could help us right away in the baseball program and he did.”
Throughout his four seasons with the Diamond Dogs, Ferguson played outfielder and pitcher. Although he is one of their best pitchers, his playing time is primarily in center field.
LaGrange’s coaches currently have other plans for him.
“He's gonna go as a pitcher,” Ainslie said. “But, once they see what kind of athlete he is, I think they'll probably allow him to show his skills in other areas.”
Ferguson said he is prepared to take whichever route comes his way.
“This summer, I worked a lot on my pitching, upping my velocity and working on my other pitches,” he said. “I went up there and they really liked me on the pitcher's mound. I like pitching and I like playing the outfield. I think it comes down to where I can help the team the most, and I feel like, if they think it's pitching, I agree with them. But, if I go up there and I could play outfield, then I'd definitely play outfield. Whatever it is to help the team win.”
Winning is something Ferguson’s done a lot of during his time in Madison.
The Diamond Dogs reached the postseason the last two seasons. Last year, they advanced all the way to the Final Four.
Unfortunately for Morgan, that’s where its season ended after running into eventual Class AAA state champion Lovett.
Ainslie said Ferguson played an integral role in all of Morgan’s success over the years.
“He's an anchor on our team,” Ainslie said. “He's a leader. We're very excited and very proud of him and I know his family's proud of him for furthering his baseball career.”
Once Ainslie finished speaking, Ferguson stood at the podium and thanked the many people who gathered for the ceremony. He grew emotional as he thanked his parents, Jim and Angela Ferguson, for all the help they gave him throughout his career.
He called his mom his “Superman” and recalled the numerous times his dad hit ground balls to him and threw him pitches to hit.
Once the ceremony ended, Ferguson again thanked those who turned out to celebrate his day.
“Honestly, I wasn't expecting this many people to come here but it's good to see that people from all around the school, different sports and everything, come out to support me,” Ferguson said. “We're all a family here. It just means a lot.”
Ferguson’s next phase of life is rapidly approaching. Soon, he will graduate and move on to LaGrange.
But, for he and his teammates, there is still unfinished business. The Diamond Dogs entered this week halfway through the regular season with a 12-3 record.
They currently lead Region 8-AAA with a 6-0 region record and a playoff berth appears imminent. They don’t plan to stop with just another postseason appearance.
Ferguson said he and the other players share one major goal.
“It’s the same as everyone else on the team: a state championship,” he said. “After the Final Four last year, it was awful. The feeling of losing wasn't fun. I think we put all of that behind us. That was last year and we've got a brand-new team this year and we've got potential. We can go as far as we want. We've just got to keep working hard.”