DOBSON — As Surry Central’s baseball team makes a late-season push toward the top of the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference standings, the bumper crop of Golden Eagles who are signing to play at the next level continues.
On Thursday morning, Surry Central senior right fielder Tyler Whitaker became the latest member of the team to announce his plans, choosing Bluefield College in a ceremony held at the school.
Whitaker was already regarded as something of a prospect before the season even began. The three-sport athlete for Central hit .455 in limited action as a junior and started his college process back in November. He had five academic package offers to choose from, and favored Bluefield even before he decided to play baseball collegiately. He was accepted academically to Bluefield back in February, but wasn’t ready to commit until the baseball offer came the first week of April.
He went up to Bluefield for a campus tour on April 1 with his parents and then was invited to attend a prospect camp the following Sunday. This is when things started to come together for Tyler. It was there when Recruiting/Assistant Coach Drew Bailey from Bluefield sparked an interest in Tyler, who leads Surry Central with a .459 batting average going into Thursday night’s game. In the prospect camp, he ran the 60 in 6.75 and home to first in a 4.0. His outfield velocity was 78 mph. He also demonstrated his strength while batting.
Whitaker is currently SCHS’ leadoff batter. In addition to the .459 batting average, he has scored 10 runs in 12 games, driven in six, and is a perfect 5-for-5 in stealing bases. In the field, he has not made an error all season.
“Tyler is one of the hardest workers I have coached,” said Central head coach Seth Reece.
Whitaker’s memorable senior year began in November, when he completed his Eagle Scout project at his home church, Stony Knoll United Methodist. Then in December, Tyler completed and pass his state CNA class at Surry Community College. Things continued to look good him when he finished his wrestling season with All Conference honors. He was runner-up in the 2017 conference tournament and placed fifth in the regional.Surry Central head wrestling coach Stephen Priddy named him the Most Improved Wrestler for the 2016-2017 season.
Academically, he will be inducted into the National Technical Honor Society at SCHS in May. Tyler currently holds a GPA of 3.5 after taking AP, Honors, and College classes along with playing sports. Tyler’s parents, Hank and Tracie Whitaker couldn’t be more proud of his accomplishments so far in his senior year.
When you asked Tyler his thoughts, he will say “he’s blessed and that hard work and dedication pays off.”
Bluefield College is a member of the Appalachian Athletic Conference in the NAIA Division II ranks. The school is also a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) and won the national championship of that organization in baseball in 2009.