Richmond Hill alum Justin Henle recently signed a letter of intent to continue his baseball career at the College of Charleston.
It is the second step on a journey Henle mapped out for himself in high school.
“My goal is to go D1 right after my sophomore year and then try to go pro after that,” he told the Bryan County News in 2015.
Henle signed with Darton State College in Albany and played there as a freshman, including a trip to the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series. Darton ended its athletics program in 2016 when it merged with Albany State University, so Henle spent this past season playing for Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala.
“Going to junior college is the best decision I ever made,” Henle said. “It gave me a much better understanding of the game and all the different aspects of it.”
Henle graduated from RHHS in 2015 along with Chandler Newman, who was recently drafted by the San Diego Padres after spending two seasons at Chattahoochee Valley Community College.
“We keep in touch,” Henle said. “We knew it would happen eventually for both of us. We both have that same goal.”
Wildcats Coach Stacy Bennett agrees.
“He’ll succeed at Darton, whether that’s one or two years, and then he’ll succeed at a four-year school and at pro baseball, because that’s the kind of drive, focus and determination he has,” Bennett told the Bryan County News two years ago.
This past season, Henle helped the Wallace State Lions to a 43-11 record, batting .253 with one home run and 11 RBIs. He recorded only two passed balls behind the plate and did not hit into a single double play, which is unusual for catchers as the wear and tear on their legs means they are not often among the fastest players on the roster.
At College of Charleston, the Cougars went 28-31 overall in 2017, including 13-11 in the Colonial Athletic Association.
“All four coaches there played minor league ball, so I’m really excited to work with them and learn from them,” Henle said. “They’ve sent me a workout plan to increase my speed and agility and told me to just keep hitting the weight room.”
Henle said he plans to major in business. His younger brother, Braden, recently signed to play baseball at Emmanuel College.