POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Many chase a dream. Few make it a reality.
Point Pleasant senior Abe Stearns fulfilled a lifelong fantasy of playing collegiate baseball by signing a letter of intent with Potomac State College of West Virginia University on Friday, Feb. 24, at the PPJSHS library in Mason County.
Stearns — a three-year starter and letterwinner with the Big Blacks baseball program — has played no other sport at PPHS besides baseball, but the right-hander has occupied his offseasons over the years by playing more and more baseball on a traveling circuit.
Stearns has been part of the Huntington Hounds offseason baseball program for numerous years, which has included winning the team’s Michael Wong Award and participating in games outside and around the country — including trips to the west coast and Puerto Rico.
During his tenure at Point Pleasant, Stearns has been part of two regional qualifiers at the Class AAA level and has come away with numerous individual honors — including a special honorable mention selection last year on the triple-A all-state baseball team.
Stearns has also won Point Pleasant’s Leadership Award as a freshman and came away with Pitcher of the Year honors last spring after leading the Big Blacks in strikeouts (47), ERA (2.85) and innings pitched (59).
For his career, Stearns has pitched in 35 games for PPHS while amassing a 9-8 overall record with three saves in 116.1 innings of work. His career ERA is 3.47 and he also 96 career strikeouts to go along with 55 free passes.
Stearns — who is being recruited as a pitcher — has also played catcher, third base and both middle infield positions for the Big Blacks during his previous three campaigns. The senior has one home run, five stolen bases, 19 runs batted in and 26 runs scored during his three years at the high school level.
It’s a big-time jump for Stearns in heading to a program with Potomac State’s history, but as he noted — he’s waited his whole life for a chance like this … and he’s glad that it is now a reality.
“It’s a real honor to play at another level. It’s been a dream ever since I was a little boy,” Stearns said. “To play for a top-notch team like Potomac State, it’s truly a blessing. It’s a surreal feeling and hard to put into words, but I’m really excited to be a Catamount and to have the chance to continue my career at a program like that.
“Potomac State felt like a pretty good fit for me, being a junior college. I’ll have two years to learn the collegiate game at a very high level, then hopefully I’ll have an offer or two waiting for me at another school so that I can finish my college career at another level. This is what I’ve prepared myself for my whole life and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity.”
Potomac State — located in Keyser, W.Va. — is one of the more prestigious junior colleges in the country in teams of baseball.
The Catamounts have captured a dozen Region XX championships since 2000 and have competed in four JUCO World Series events since the turn of the millennium. The program also captured a national championship in 1995.
Fourth-year PPHS baseball coach Andrew Blain was very pleased to see this day come, both as a mentor to Abe and also as the leader of a high school baseball program.
Blain believes that Potomac State is getting the kind of baseball player that they like to find … and Stearns is more than ready for what the Catamounts will be asking of him.
“Potomac State is one of the top JUCO’s in the nation and they take their baseball very seriously. It’s a big honor to just to get your foot in the door as a baseball player there,” Blain said. “Abe fits the mold of what they are looking for because, most importantly, he loves baseball and he is a good young man.
“He’s wanted to play college baseball ever since he came to me as a freshman in my first year, and he is my first college signee as head coach at Point Pleasant, so this is a special day for a lot of people in having this become a reality. It’s a win-win for everybody involved and we are proud of him. Hopefully, he will be the first of many more baseball signees to come.”
Stearns also feels that his previous three seasons at Point Pleasant have helped him prepare for this next step, not to mention all of the support he has received from family and teammates in making this dream a reality.
“I’ve been really fortunate to have supportive people throughout my career, rather it by my parents, my coaches or my teammates,” Stearns said. “Playing at the triple-A level over the last three years has been tough, but it has better prepared me for what lies ahead. The competition level makes you better because you have to raise your game every night out, so I definitely feel that Point Pleasant has made me ready for the challenge that awaits me.”
Stearns is undecided on his college major and currently holds a 3.5 grade-point average.
Abe is the son of Michael and Pamela Stearns of Leon, W.Va.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.