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Five Golden Tigers sign with Northwest-Shoals to continue baseball careers

On a night when the 2022 AHSAA Class 5A baseball state championship-winning Russellville Golden Tigers were honored by the community with a celebration at the RMS gym, five members of the team signed with Northwest-Shoals Community College to continue their education and playing careers.

Pitchers Samuel Pace and Emitt Green will be joined at NW-SCC next season by Grayson Thorpe, Nathan Brockway and Ethan Oliver. The five will be part of bringing back the Patriot baseball program under the leadership of head coach David Langston, who has served as an assistant coach working with the talented group of pitchers at RHS for the past two state title-winning seasons of 2021-22.

“It’s very exciting,” Langston said. “These guys know my expectations. We’re not going to have any returning players, but even though these guys are going to be freshmen, I expect them to be leaders mainly because they are going to know what’s going on and everything. I’ve coached them, and I know their personalities, and I know what they bring every day, and these guys are exactly what I want to bring into that program.

“They come from a tradition-rich program; they are used to winning; and that’s what we want to be able to continue there.”

Pace was a key contributor to the Russellville state title in 2022 by starting and winning the decisive game three on the mound in both the semifinals and finals of the playoffs. He said he’s looking forward to pitching for Langston at the next level.

“It’s a very big deal, especially since I get to go be with Coach Langston,” Pace said. “As soon as he got the job, I knew I wanted to go there.”

Langstone was named the head coach in March, after NW-SCC announced the return of baseball and softball in October 2021. Langston returns to the school where he played in 1993-1994 and coached from 2001 until the program was shuttered in 2011.

“I think we can have success right away, and that’s what I’ve shared with athletes and their families,” Langston shared in an earlier interview. “We’re going to get this thing going, but we’ve to have the right players, and I think we have a good plan in place for how we’re going to get them.”

Langston’s team of the “right players” will also include Russellville’s Green, who has also been a big part of the pitching staff at RHS, and he said he’s fired up about the future.

“I’m excited for them to bring sports back to Northwest, and I’m excited to get it started,” Green said, adding he is looking forward to getting to play at the next level with some of his friends from Russellville. “We’ve established a brotherhood from kindergarten up here, and to have those guys come to college is impeccable, and it’s going to be amazing.”

Thorpe has started in the outfield for the Golden Tigers, and he said Northwest-Shoals fits what he was looking for in a school. “I get to stay here close to home, and I get to keep playing with some of my buddies,” Thorpe said. “Coach Langston is a great coach, and I love him. He’s helped me a lot the past two years to get better and make me a better baseball player.”

Brockway will also continue his athletic career on the baseball field at NW-SCC. “With the program coming back, it’s going to be a big thing for the community, and we’re all excited to get started,” Brockway said.

Another Golden Tiger that will be making his way to Northwest-Shoals is Oliver. “It’s a dream come true,” Oliver said about the RHS teammates playing together in college. “You’ve got five of your best friends from high school, and you can’t dream it up any better. It’s like a fairytale.”

“Those guys have earned the right to be college players,” Russellville head coach Chris Heaps said about the group that signed with the Patriots. “They are our hardest workers, and they uphold the standards that we expect them to uphold. They are ‘we before me’ guys, and Coach Langston knows what he is getting. He is getting the core of the leadership that we’ve had.”     

The exhibition season is scheduled to begin in September 2022, with conference play beginning in March 2023. The Patriot team will compete against opponents within the Alabama Community College Conference, National Junior College Athletic Association and National Collegiate Athletic Association.