HC’s Heavilin to play baseball at D1 Coppin State

CADIZ — When Harrison Central opens the 2018 high school baseball season next spring, it will have two NCAA Division I recruits on its roster. The latest being J.R. Heavilin.

The Huskies senior infielder recently announced that he will continue his academic and athletic careers at Coppin State, which is located in Baltimore. The Eagles are members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).

“I’m kind of at a loss for words. I’m not sure it has really sunk in yet,” Heavilin admitted during a telephone interview last week. “I just want to take this opportunity that God has put in front of me and make the most of it.”

Harrison Central head coach Mike Valesko couldn’t be any happier for Heavilin.

“We, as a coaching staff, are excited any time a kid goes to college, whether he’s playing baseball or not, because he’s investing in his future. J.R. has put in a ton of work and has made that commitment to play Division I baseball,” Valesko, who is entering his fifth season as the head coach, said. “I’m really happy for him. He started some for us as a sophomore and became a full-time starter last year, so his potential is ahead of him.”

Huskies sophomore Andrew Clelland verballed to the University of Pittsburgh prior to last season.

Heavilin will have earned four varsity letters after this season on the diamond.

“I’ve invested more time in baseball than I have free time to myself,” Heavilin said. “I used to wrestle, but baseball is my true passion.”

Heavilin found out about Coppin State during a showcase at Wild Things Park in Washington, Pa., over the summer. That’s when he was approached by an assistant coach for the Eagles who invited him to a workout and visit on campus.

“Everyone was so nice and the campus was just beautiful,” he added. “It was definitely somewhere I could see myself going.”

A second baseman primarily for the Huskies, Heavilin was recruited as a third baseman. However, he doesn’t see the change having any adverse affect.

“They (the Coppin State coaches) liked my quick first step and my reaction time,” he said of handling the ‘hot’ corner.

Valesko said he should have no trouble in making the adjustment.

“He’s an athlete and has a very strong arm,” the coach noted. “He loves to compete. He will adjust well. He’s a great kid from a great family.”

Valesko added that the Coppin State coaches feel he can step right in a play, but Heavilin knows there is still work ahead.

“I need to hit the weight room and get my strength up,” he said. “I need to sharpen my skills and increase my speed because Division I baseball is played at a whole different level..”

The Eagles play in the North Division with Delaware State, Hampton University, Howard University, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Morgan State and Norfolk State. The South is comprised of Bethune-Cookman, Florida A&M, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central, Savannah State and South Carolina State.

Heavilin, who will major in health sciences, resides in Hopedale with his parents, Jami and Brian.