Ayers going from a Crusader to a Knight

Feb. 23, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

With his senior baseball season still to play, and a season in which the Crusaders will be looking to build on major strides from last spring, Grace Christian senior Aaron Ayers signed to keep playing at the college level Friday, committing to St. Andrews University.

As the pitching ace and clean-up hitter for the Crusaders, Ayers earned All-Carolina Christian Conference and All-State NCISAA (North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association) honors last season. Grace Christian won the CCC tournament championship and reached the state quarterfinals.

"It's a lot of weight off my shoulders. It's nice to have the rest of the high school season without worrying about it," Ayers said.

The season, starting this week for the Crusaders, will be the last with his father Jeff as his high school coach. The father and son being coach and player goes back many years longer than Grace Christian though, to Deep River Northview Optimist Park baseball and, "since I was five years old," Aaron said.

"This means everything," he said, "to have worked for this and to know what it means for everyone who's supported me. I thank God for giving me this opportunity.

"My dad's coached me all the way since day one, all the way through high school, it makes it more special," said Aaron.

Aaron's family and Grace Christian principal and athletic director Chris Pratt joined Aaron as he completed the official paperwork on Friday morning.

Going to college and continuing to play ball close to home, in Laurinburg, means a lot said Ayers.

"It's a small school and I like that atmosphere and I like the coaches there. They have a lot of knowledge of the game," he said.

Ayers doesn't know what position he'll take up for St. Andrews yet, but said he's eager no matter what role, pitcher, slugging first baseman, or still both, the coaches see as best for him. 

The Knights, an NAIA program under second-year head coach Drew Roberts, got this season going on Feb. 1 and are 3-3 on the season after going 25-24 last season. St. Andrews is in the Appalachian Athletic Conference and sports a JV program.