College visits can be daunting. There’s the looming sense of both excitement and possibly dread that comes with newfound independence, and the transition into young adulthood. It can be a lot to take in.
After his first visit at Columbus State University, Adairsville pitcher Kyler Pelfrey experienced that feeling.
“I got shellshocked,” Pelfrey said.
But on Wednesday, given some time, perspective and other visits, he signed with Georgia College to pitch for the Bobcats.
“It reminds me of home, like Adairsville,” the 6-foot, 185-pound senior said. “Small-town campus, kind of like downtown Cartersville, almost.”
Pelfrey was named to The Daily Tribune News All-County team in 2016 as a junior. He pitched 28.1 innings, striking out an impressive 33, and recording a 3.21 ERA. He also hit .365 with a .416 on-base percentage, splitting his time between shortstop and the mound.
Those numbers made Pelfrey one of the most important players on the team, and his willingness to fill in positions of need made him even more valuable. In addition to being one of Adairsville’s top pitchers, he also took a prime position in the middle infield and moved to the leadoff spot in the batting order because the Tigers needed someone who could get on base at a high rate.
“He’s been a three-year threat for us. He’s been one of our better pitchers, one of our better infielders up the middle,” Adairsville head coach Billy Roper said. “Last year, he led off for us most of the year. He’s not typically a leadoff hitter, but we wanted to put somebody there who could make contact, and he held that spot down for us all year.”
According to Roper, Pelfrey’s ascension to an invaluable member of the team came from year-round work, as well as constant experience playing travel ball.
In September alone, Pelfrey made three consecutive all-tournament teams in major Perfect Game events.
“He works hard and plays baseball all year round,” Roper said. “We had him take a little bit off this year to rest his arm some. But he’s always working, always playing — works hard in the weight room and he does everything we ask. It’s good to see somebody who’s done everything you’ve asked them to do be able to fulfill one of his dreams of playing collegiate baseball.”
With the strong offseason he’s had, coming off a breakout junior campaign, Roper expects Pelfrey to be the leader of the Tigers in the spring.
“We’re going to have to lean on him,” Roper said. “He’s a two-year starter and he’s going to be right there in the middle for us. We’re going to need him if we’re going to be successful. A lot of it’s going to be on him, offensively, defensively and on the mound. He’s worked hard to put himself in this situation for us to rely on him, and we’re going to rely on him a lot.”
While Pelfrey will be one of the best defensive infielders this year and is expected to be the Tigers’ top bat in his upcoming senior season, his focus will turn to the mound in college, as he will be just a pitcher in Milledgeville.
Georgia College has a coaching staff with an impressive pedigree — head coach Jason Eller coached under Scott Stricklin at the University of Georgia, and Nolan Belcher won two national titles at South Carolina as a pitcher himself.
Pelfrey credits the two for helping him feel at home on his visit. He had drawn interest from Young Harris, Valdosta State and Augusta State in addition to Columbus State.
The Bobcats went 35-15 in 2016.
Pelfrey is at ease with his decision, and is now ready to help try to lead the Tigers deep into the state playoffs after they missed out last year.
“I’m proud of my career,” Pelfrey said. “It’s a huge weight taken off my shoulders just knowing I can go out there and relax and play now.”