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Toronto’s Parker catches West Liberty University’s attention

SIGNING DAY — Toronto senior Chris Parker signed his letter of intent Wednesday to continue his academic and baseball careers at West Liberty University. Flanked by his parents, Tracy and John Parker, joining him are, standing, from left, assistant coaches Nick Chetock and Richie Crowe, Principal Betsy Jones, manager Brian Perkins, Athletic Director Mark Ferrell, assistant coaches Ralph LeMasters and Rich Crowe Sr., and trainer Jimmy Daily. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

TORONTO — Despite not playing his junior season, Chris Parker impressed enough to sign his letter of intent Wednesday.

The senior will continue his academic and baseball careers at West Liberty University.

“I think I had my heart set on West Liberty from the get go,” Parker said. “A lot of people have come from there. Coach (Brian) Perkins graduated from West Liberty. It’s a family tradition, too. My parents and aunts and uncles went there. It’s a great program and similar to Toronto. They have a solid coaching staff.”

Parker could not play his 2020 baseball season because COVID-19 wiped out all spring sports. He played sparingly on the 2019 state championship squad as a sophomore.

“I’m very excited for Chris and his parents. It’s a great family in Toronto, they brought him up well and he’s a great kid,” Perkins said. “He’ll do big things in no matter what he does. I’m very excited for him to go to my alma mater.

“We’re expecting big things from Chris this year on the mound and in the field. Last year, I’m sure he would’ve had a big year for us. He’s been working hard all summer long and in the offseason to really get to this point of going to college and play at the next level.”

Parker is expected to pitch and play first base, along with some time in the outfield, for the upcoming season. He was able to play ball this past summer to catch West Liberty’s attention. It also helped that Perkins has a good relationship with the program.

“It feels great (to sign),” Parker said. “Going up there with the team was great. The coaching staff was great. I just want to thank them for having me up there with them and having me around the campus.

“I also want to thank coach Perkins and the coaching staff for helping me each day at practice get better and better. I also need to thank my family and Toronto City Schools.”

Parker is coming off a successful football season. As the team’s leading linebacker, he recorded 100 tackles (seven for a loss), 2.5 sacks and one interception.

With football in the rear-view mirror, Parker switches his attention for what everyone hopes will be a 2021 season.

“It was rough having our season canceled due to COVID, but I’m glad we were able to have summer ball and were able to play,” Parker said. “I had a great season, and this year I’m hoping we’re able to have a (varsity) season. We’re still the defending state champions.”

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