Two years ago, D.L. Hall traveled two hours north on Interstate 75, a trip that would shape the rest of his baseball career.
Since the end of his freshman year of high school, Hall called Houston County home. With the size of the baseball market in Atlanta, he wanted to get as much recognition as possible.
He got what he wanted.
Since moving to Houston County from Valdosta, Hall has achieved plenty. Once Middle Georgia became home, his goal of building his legacy began.
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Hall helped lead the Houston County Bears to the GHSA Class AAAAA championship this season, and he will also join an elite group of players July 23 in Chicago to play in the 2016 Under Armour All-America game.
“When I found out about it, I always watched it, and I knew I wanted to do it,” said the 17-year-old pitcher, who is committed to Florida State. “(It’s) very exciting.”
A left-handed pitcher, Hall went 6-1 with three saves for Houston County. He had an ERA of 1.81 and 89 strikeouts. He also is a threat offensively. He led the team with 40 hits and had a .339 hitting average.
“It’s been a lot of fun seeing his development,” said Jason Brett, his head coach at Houston County. “Now he’s getting the opportunity to play at Wrigley.”
One thing he is most excited about the game is that he will get to play in Wrigley Field, and he said he would love to play for the Chicago Cubs some day.
While Hall already has developed as a top-tier pitcher in the nation, there are some things he must work on. This summer, Hall’s focus has been on his change-up.
Currently, the fastball and curveball are Hall’s strongest pitches. But this summer with Chain National-Dobbs, his travel team, he is looking to utilize a third pitch. By the end of the summer he hopes to add the change-up to his pitching mix.
“I definitely plan to use it in Chicago,” Hall said. “There will be a lot of scouts watching.”
Joining Hall in the Under Armour game is Cole Brannen, a rising senior at Westfield and a Georgia Southern commitment. The two are teammates on their travel team.
Like Brannen, Hall is also a part of Perfect Game and Baseball Factory.
“It’s huge being from the same town,” Hall said. “It’s huge to have somebody that can play at that level … being around him helps me push myself.
“Just to say that we are from the same town represents Houston County well.”
But he won’t be representing Houston County any longer. With a state title and an invitation to play at high school baseball’s most prestigious stage, Hall’s job is complete in Middle Georgia as he moves back to Valdosta.
“It’s going to be tough,” he said of leaving Houston County. “There’s no hard feelings. It will be fun. I’m looking forward (to playing against them).”
Now it’s back down I-75 to south Georgia, to return where his family and support is. He said his return to Valdosta is to finish where he started, in front of his friends and family.
“It won’t affect me at all,” Hall said with confidence. “I got the exposure and state title I need.”