Russell Maddrey had specific requirements in mind when he was looking for a college.
The Aiken High School baseball player wanted to go to a college where he could pursue his passion of baseball while pursuing a specific course of study. It turns out that Berry College was the perfect place for Maddrey to fulfill both of his requirements, and Friday he committed to the Division III school in Mount Berry, Ga., which boasts the world’s largest campus.
“Berry first pursued me, and it offered me the best fit academically,” said Maddrey, who chose Berry over Brevard and UNC Asheville, in part because it offers the a degree program in his preferred course of study. “I want to major in environmental science, with a focus on geology. I’m interested in how the Earth works, the mechanics of it all. Berry offers that major, so it seems like a perfect fit.”
Maddrey said finding the college with the right academic program was the most important factor in his search. That’s understandable considering the player who’s a staple for the Hornets at catcher is also a regular on the A-B Honor Roll. Maddrey said he’s currently ranked No. 6 in his class at Aiken High. He also said he fell in love with the famous campus when he visited Berry.
“It’s remote, but it’s a good community,” he said of the college that’s approximately a four-hour car ride away from Aiken. “It’s nice to know I can come home and that my parents can come see me play.”
When they go, they can expect to see Maddrey continuing to work as a catcher for the Vikings. For head coach Derek Luton at Aiken, Maddrey is invaluable behind the plate. But he’s also distinguished himself as a capable pitcher and figures to see more time on both sides of the battery this season.
“He’s one of our team leaders and an outstanding defensive catcher,” Luton said of Maddrey, who has been a starter since he was a sophomore and caught almost every game for the Hornets last season. “I think he’ll do well.”
Both Luton and Maddrey himself said he needs to improve his production at the plate to compliment his skills behind it. But both were optimistic with more hard work, improved bat speed and power will come. Maddrey said his goal was to become a starter for the Vikings as soon as possible but knows that might take some time as he gets his routine down.
“I want to play baseball four years and have a great time in college,” said Maddrey, who’s optimistic he’ll do both at Berry. “I love baseball so much. College is supposed to be the best four years of your life, but I can’t imagine it being that way for me without baseball.”
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than a dozen years after graduating from Syracuse University.