Fort Payne senior J.D. Blalock plans to continue his baseball career at Snead State Community College. Pictured, from left, are mom Jamie Vest, dad Heath Blalock, J.D. Blalock, Fort Payne baseball head coach Eric Varnadore and assistant coaches Cody Willingham and Jesse Caminiti.

When J.D. Blalock was awarded a industrial technology scholarship from Snead State Community College, the school’s head baseball coach piqued the Fort Payne senior’s interest by sweetening the deal.

Snead State coach Casey Underwood invited Blalock to earn a spot on the baseball team.

Blalock, who has also made a name for himself playing quarterback at Fort Payne High School, was thrilled for the opportunity to continue his baseball career. 

“I had a couple of schools email me about playing football, but I wasn’t really interested in playing football in college, just baseball, Blalock said during a ceremony at Fort Payne High School on Wednesday afternoon.

Blalock was a catcher for the Wildcats, who closed their season with a doubleheader loss against Springville in the first round of the AHSAA Class 6A state playoffs in April.

The Wildcats took a 7-4 loss in Game 1 before finishing on the losing end of a 5-4 score in Game 2, bringing the team’s final record to 17-16.

Blalock will be joining a Snead State program that competes in the Alabama Community College Conference as a part of the National Junior College Athletic Association.

“This is an exciting opportunity,” said Eric Varnadore, head coach of the Fort Payne baseball team. “Anytime you get somebody who has an opportunity to go on and play their career collegiately, it’s a big day. For a lot of guys growing up, they have these big aspirations and they want to play college baseball. To see J.D. get to do that is a tremendous blessing, not only for him and his family, but for us as a program too, knowing we have some guys who are able to pursue that dream.”

Blalock went to Snead for a baseball workout and drew an offer in February, just before the start of Fort Payne’s baseball season.

“I really enjoyed the coaches,” Blalock said of his visit to Snead. “When I went down there they didn’t act like I was somebody else, they acted like I was part of the team.”

Snead closed its baseball season with a 10-0 loss to Chattahoochee Valley Community College in a NJCAA South District postseason elimination game May 9. The team finished with a 34-15 overall record, including a 26-6 mark in conference play.

Varnadore said one of the most exciting parts of Blalock’s baseball opportunity is how close to Fort Payne he’ll be playing.

“When our schedule allows, it’s easy for us to get down there and see J.D. play,” Varnadore said. “You want to be able to follow your guys when they go on to play.”

Varnadore described Blalock as an “one of those irreplaceable guys” to Fort Payne’s baseball program. 

“He was our catcher, just a backstop for us,” the coach said. “Every day, we knew what we were getting from him. He’s a high-energy guy, a leader in the clubhouse and on the field. He’s a guy we leaned on as a coaching staff, knowing he was going to carry out what we were trying to do day in and day out.”

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