HURRICANE, W.Va. - A fan being disappointed when his favorite team wins a national championship is unheard of, but that's how Hurricane High School's Jonathan Blackwell felt when Coastal Carolina University's baseball team won the 2016 College World Series.
"Honestly, I was crushed," Blackwell said of the Chanticleers' dispatching of Florida, Texas Christian and Arizona in the World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. "Yes, I was excited for them but I had just signed up to go to a camp and I really wanted an offer from them at that camp. I thought I had no shot anymore."
How wrong Blackwell was. The left-handed pitcher threw three innings at camp before Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore asked Blackwell and family to come by his office the next morning. They did and Gilmore offered a scholarship.
"I didn't know what to think because it was my dream school," said Blackwell, who signed a National Letter of Intent on Thursday. "Right there on the spot I accepted the offer."
Blackwell, 6-foot-3, 184 pounds, features a fastball that regularly sits at 89 mph and has scraped 90 with life. Blackwell moves the pitch around the strike zone well. He also throws a curveball with bite for strikes and occasionally mixes in a change-up with run and sink. He also plays first base and outfield for the Redskins, whom he helped to the Class AAA state championship last season after a runner-up finish in 2016.
Blackwell, who transferred from George Washington after his freshman year, threw 48 2/3 innings last season and struck out 81. He allowed just 25 hits and fashioned a 1.44 ERA and a 7-2 record as Hurricane went 34-4.
Cracking the rotation at a program the caliber of Coastal Carolina could be a challenge, but Blackwell said he's ready for whatever role he is asked to play.
"I expect to be pushed really hard in the weight room and there's going to be a lot of changes to how I train," said Blackwell, who will major in marine sciences. "I'm hoping I can get some starts at some point and really try to help out the team, but even coming out of the bullpen for games will be awesome."
Blackwell said he dreams of multiple trips to the College World Series.
"The whole goal is to make it to Omaha and I'm willing to do whatever I can to help us," Blackwell said. "That first season will just be awesome pitching in a stadium with the way the crowd gets into the games like they do down there. It's going to be incredible."