ORANGE PARK - St. Johns Country Day School baseball coach Tom Lucas thanked his senior third baseman Jack Hodges for his play and "being a great teammate" on Wed., Nov. 13 during National Early Signing Day as the Spartan fielder inked a scholarship offer to Flagler College.
"Jack came in with me as a seventh grader in my first year," said Lucas. "He immediately got recognized for working hard. He was going to be overmatched in varsity baseball. Because we had so little numbers, we kind of threw him at third base. He'll be a six year player on the varsity baseball team."
For Hodges, going to the NCAA Division II Flagler program has been a long-time coming.
"This is a very big day for me," said Hodges. "I went to their camp when I was 14 and loved it. Honestly, that was my first camp and they gave me an offer when I went on a visit. I love the school."
Flagler, a storied Division II program with plenty of Clay County connections including Ridgeview High athletic director John Sgromolo, who made the Los Angeles Dodgers; Middleburg High's Bobby Bassler and Major Leaguer Kyle Bird, now a pitcher for the Texas Rangers. Kyle Morton, a Fleming Island High grad, is presently on the Flagler roster as a right hand pitcher along with Nathan Henderson a pitcher from Middleburg High School and Steven Rodriguez, a freshman from Keystone Heights High School.
Hodges, a .250 hitter last year with nine runs batted in, pushed the Spartans to a region final finish; an 11-1 loss to North Florida Christian, with a 19-8 overall record.
Hodges noted coach Lucas' strategy of scheduling plenty of higher class teams during regular season play as part of steeling the Spartans approach to games in general.
"When we first started playing teams like Fleming Island and Creekside, we took our lumps, but coach told us to learn from those games," said Hodges. "We got beat up in 2018, but that helped us last year."
Adding to the mix of preparing Hodges to next-level playing is his father, Dan Hodges, an Ed White High player, a left handed pitcher, and Liberty University pitcher with limited minor league ball before a shoulder injury.
"It's awesome," said Dan Hodges, who was with wife Amy and Brad Hodges, 16, also a St. Johns baseball player."He really just kind of loved Flagler."
Lucas currently has two players; Connor Moore, a junior, and Jordan Taylor, a sophomore, with commits to Florida State University.