EAST BEND — Multi-sport athlete Barrett Hennings will go into his final high school baseball season with different expectations as he has committed to Gardner-Webb University to play the spring sport.
Just Friday, Hennings was the game-high scorer with 21 points against South Stokes in basketball, but as the temperatures begin to warm in a couple of months, his focus will turn to the sport he has decided to pursue on a collegiate level — baseball.
Gardner-Webb announced recently that it has added five student-athletes to the baseball roster during the early signing period, with one of those being Hennings as first baseman. Other additions include outfield J.D. Huggins of Tallahassee, Fla., infielder Luke Kaesmeyer of Danville, Va., right-handed pitcher Bradley Hallman of Huntersville and outfield and left-handed pitcher Chandler Jenkins of Vale.
“We are tremendously excited about this early signing class,” said Gardner-Webb Coach Rusty Stroupe in a release about the new players. “Because we don’t have a lot of turnover this year, the number of signees was small, but the quality of this class is exceptional. We believe each of these young men will contribute to our program significantly, and will continue to excel as both students and athletes.”
Hennings has played on the Forbush varsity baseball team for three years under Head Coach Denny Key Jr. and Assistant Coach Jeremy Helton. In addition, he has played with the Kernersville Bulldogs under coaches Dale Ljames and Tom Dorzweiller; Heat Showcase team in Hickory with Coach Jason Harris; and Stix baseball in Mooresville with Coach Earl Hiatt.
“I had a few other options,” Hennings said of his collegiate choice. “But I was really impressed with the coaching staff and with being a private Christian college. I didn’t think I could go wrong there. They have strong academics and athletics.
“The coaches were just really straight up, too, and that really impressed me,” said the senior Falcon.
Hennings’ hitting coach is Mark Davidson of Statesville, who played professional baseball for the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros. Davidson was a member of the 1987 World Series Champion Twins.
Hennings has been honored as Mountain Valley All Conference honorable mention his sophomore year, and MVAC All Tournament Team his junior year.
Having his college destination nailed down gives Hennings a new outlook on this year’s high school season, he said.
“It really helps because I’m not worried about having to go out there and impress college coaches and scramble to make a last-minute decision,” Hennings said. “But it is a new pressure, because they’ll be saying he’s signed and he’s supposed to be amazing.”
In addition to the high school fields and other places Hennings has visited on the field, venues he’s played in include ESPN Wide World of Sports Baseball Complex in Orlando, Fla.; East Cobb Baseball Complex in Marietta, Ga.; USA Baseball Complex in Cary, home of the USA Olympic baseball team; N.C. State University Stadium; University of South Carolina Stadium; Clemson University Stadium; and Gardner-Webb Stadium.
According to the Gardner-Webb release, 6-foot 175-pound Hennings enters his final season as a Falcon as the second-rated first baseman in North Carolina by Perfect Game and and as one of the state’s top 70 senior prospects overall. He batted .309 with 18 runs scored, 14 RBI and a pair of home runs as a junior, and has a .351 career average with 40 hits, 40 RBI and 43 runs scored in two seasons.
“Penny and I are proud of Barrett’s accomplishments as a student, athlete and person,” said his father, Barry Hennings. “We are excited to see his hard work and dedication pay off by being able to play baseball at the collegiate level.
“We want to thank all of his coaches that helped him get to the next level, especially Forbush Head Coach Denny Key Jr. Gardner-Webb is a great school, and we are pleased Barrett will be playing for an excellent organization headed by Coach Rusty Stroupe, who was the 2012 recipient of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Character in Coaching award,” he said.
Barrett Hennings, in turn, said, “I would like to thank my family, my parents and grandparents and all my coaches I’ve had through the years.”
He said he plans on majoring in business with a minor in criminal justice.
Reach Wendy Byerly Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 835-1513.