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Vina grad signs with UNA

A familiar face to some members of Franklin County will soon grace the mound for the University of North Alabama Lions baseball team.

Morgan McCarley, a 2010 graduate of Vina High School, signed with UNA after playing at the community college level for Bevill State in Fayette.

While McCarley is new to UNA, he is not new to playing baseball.

“I’ve played baseball every year since seventh grade,” he said.

“I played pretty much every position except catcher and first base.

“My favorite was either shortstop or center field. There was more action at those spots.

“You could range all over the field and make plays.”

McCarley played for the Red Devils, which have been seeing a good measure of success over the past couple of seasons.

“I think a lot of it is to do with Coach Hamilton,” he said.

“I think he’s really good with the program. He knows baseball and he knows how to coach it.

“A lot of the kids are interested in baseball, and I think that’s how you have success; have a good coach with kids interested in playing.”

Athletics at the community college level in Alabama have taken a big hit in recent years, and Bevill State in Fayette is no exception.

It was ultimately necessary for McCarley to transfer somewhere else if he wanted to continue playing baseball.

“We looked pretty good in the fall, but we had a lot of kids kicked off the team,” he said.

“It carried over to the spring, and we didn’t have a good year. They got shut down and I had to transfer out.

“I decided on UNA last spring towards the middle of the season.

“I wasn’t having as good of a year as I expected, and I decided to go ahead and sign with them so I didn’t have to worry about it anymore so I could focus on the rest of my season.”

Most high school players have to be able to perform at more than one position based on the needs of the team, so McCarley saw action at different spots around the diamond at Vina. Things tend to change at the collegiate level, however.

“I just pitch now,” McCarley said. “I was a starter last year, but I’ll probably have more of a closing role this year.

“I like my fastball and slider. I can get my fastball up to 92 or 93.

“I like throwing it hard by people. My slider’s probably my best pitch, though.

“It’s probably 80 to 83 and it snaps pretty good. It keeps them off balance.”

McCarley’s decision to play for UNA came after a visit by Lions assistant baseball coach Matt Hancock.

“I met Coach Hancock before my visit, then I met Coach [Mike] Keehn (the head coach),” he said. “He seems like a really down-to-earth guy. He seems like he’ll be pretty tough, but I like him.”

McCarley has decided to major in exercise science while at UNA, but he does not have a plan in place yet for life after college.

“I really like working out and it’s something I enjoy,” he said. “I just thought that I would enjoy that major.

I’m not sure what I’ll do after college.

We’ll see how my baseball playing goes and go from there.”