Venters toting heavy metal to GPC
by Chike Nwakamma
Jan 21, 2011 | 1843 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ben Venters signs a scholarship to play baseball at Georgia Perimeter College Thursday at the Cartersville High Storm Center Hospitality Room. Pictured with Venters are, front row from left, Ashley Overcash, sister; Melanie Venters, mother; Michael Venters, father; back row, Cartersville principal Jay Floyd; Cartersville coach Drew Startup; Cartersville coach Stuart Chester; Georgia Perimeter coach Stewart Bailey; and Cartersville athletic director Katherine Bradley.
CHIKE NWAKAMMA/The Daily Tribune News
Ben Venters signs a scholarship to play baseball at Georgia Perimeter College Thursday at the Cartersville High Storm Center Hospitality Room. Pictured with Venters are, front row from left, Ashley Overcash, sister; Melanie Venters, mother; Michael Venters, father; back row, Cartersville principal Jay Floyd; Cartersville coach Drew Startup; Cartersville coach Stuart Chester; Georgia Perimeter coach Stewart Bailey; and Cartersville athletic director Katherine Bradley. CHIKE NWAKAMMA/The Daily Tribune News
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Ben Venters is the type of player who does not mind carrying around his metal bat. In fact, his Cartersville High baseball coach thinks he would take it just about anywhere if he could.

"We can go to a barbecue and he's going to bring his bat," Purple Hurricanes coach Stuart Chester said of Venters, who will take his bat to Georgia Perimeter College next season after signing with the junior college team Thursday in the Cartersville High hospitality room.

Chester said Venters, who played third base last season, does not care who records the outs for the Canes so long as it gets him back to what enjoys most.

"He really [does not] care as long as we can get three outs in a hurry and it's his time to bat," Chester continued. "If we could bat around every inning and he could bat three times an inning, I think that's about the only time he'd be happy, but he just lives to hit and he does a good job of it."

Venters showed just how well he hits last season during a must-win game against Eastside in the second round of the Georgia High School Association state playoffs. The then-junior nearly hit for the cycle in an 8-2 win over the Eagles to help Cartersville advance to the quarterfinals, where they lost to eventual state champion Columbus.

Venters' hitting prowess was on full display at a tryout with Georgia Perimeter.

"When a guy can play, you can tell and there's no doubt he can play," said Jaguar assistant head coach Stewart Bailey, who knows Chester as well as Canes assistant coach Bryan Adams and first learned of Venters through those two, before a pro scout also informed him of the prep's talent level.

"On that whim ... [we] called him, brought him down and we let him work out with us," Bailey continued. "He proved without a doubt that he can help us. [He is] a guy that we wanted to get and we were lucky enough to make it happen."

Venters likes what he has seen from Georgia Perimeter, which is led by Danny Blue.

"The coaches, they're cool, they treat their players good," the Canes' player said. "I like their facilities, I like their field. I like the way they run things. I saw myself fitting in that program so I decided to go there."

Bailey thinks Venters will be able to contribute, or at least have that opportunity right away, which is one of the draws of going to a JUCO.

"That's one of the biggest benefits of a junior college, you want to get a chance to play as a freshman, and that's what we're looking for," he said. "We're looking to bring freshman in that can play right off the bat."

Those players have often gone off to four-year schools -- in some cases, Division I programs -- following their time at Georgia Perimeter, a rising team that won the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association regular-season title two years ago.

"Last year, we had four guys drafted and nine guys go D-I. It's been a very good stepping stone. And this year alone, we've already got five of our sophomores that signed D-I for next year," Bailey said. "It's kind of turned out in this league, if you play well, you have that opportunity to go to any four-year level [school]. ... If you come into our league, do well, keep your grades up, you should have all opportunities to have that chance to move on."

Georgia Perimeter, which plays at the school's Newton campus, went 42-16 two years ago and 36-19 last season.

While all that awaits for Venters, the senior wishes to go out on top for his final high school season.

"It's always been my goal to play college baseball. I feel like I've done that so now I can just focus on my high school season and get back to state and try to just be a team player, compete and do my thing and support my teammates," he said. "I just want to go out a winner and I think if the seniors can pull it together, then we can do it [win a state championship]. We just gotta work hard, play good and trust one another."

The Canes won back-to-back titles from 2008-2009 and Chester knows Venters -- who hit around .400 as a sophomore and .350 as a junior -- will be paramount for Cartersville's return to glory.

"I expect him not only to be on base but to drive in runs and just give us that offensive opportunity to be in the game. You gotta protect a hitter like that, though. You gotta put somebody in front of him and somebody behind him or they'll pitch around him," the longtime Canes coach said. "If they do and he gets on base, that's a good thing for us, too, 'cause he's a very good, smart baserunner. I expect him to be the one spot in the lineup they don't want to get to, which opens everybody else [for] an opportunity to hit."