NAPLES — After helping the Seacrest baseball program transition from a junior varsity team to a district champion, Jay Jenkins figures to be right at home in college.
Jenkins is among the group players whose hard work build the Stingrays into a quality baseball team, and now he’s found a college program with the same tight-knit community. The rising senior shortstop recently committed to play at Flagler, a Division II school in St. Augustine.
“Everybody told me once you step on the campus, you just know,” Jenkins said. “That was the case at Flagler. It’s an extension of what we have now at Seacrest where you have the triple threat of great academics, a great community and great baseball.”
The 6-foot, 175-pound Jenkins was a freshman when Seacrest went from JV to varsity in the spring of 2009. Two years later the Stingrays won a district championship behind Jenkins’ .471 batting average.
Last season, as a junior, Jenkins hit .433 with 33 RBIs and a .772 slugging percentage. He was one of four Seacrest players to make the Florida Athletic Coaches Association’s Class 3A all-state team.
Despite offers from several Division I colleges, Jenkins felt at home at Flagler. Plus he couldn’t resist the Saints’ athletic scholarship that covers most his tuition, the slugger said.
“They made me feel like I’m a part of something,” Jenkins said. “As an athlete, you want to know you’re going in some place where they take care of you and help develop you as a player.”
At Flagler, Jenkins will team up with a former rival. Community School graduate Danny Brown went 5-2 with a team-best 2.18 earned-run average as a freshman this spring. Brown was an All-Peach Belt Conference first team selection.
“Danny Brown really opened the door for recruiting in this area because he had such a good year for them,” Seacrest baseball coach Mark Marsala said.
Marsala said four or five players from next year’s team could go on to play college baseball. Three of the Stingrays’ four all-state selections — Jenkins, Donato DiNorcia and C.J. Price — will return in the spring of 2013.
Jenkins is the second player from Seacrest’s young program to commit to play in college. Jeff Ortiz became the first when he signed with Broward College, where he will be a freshman in the fall.
Jenkins’ commitment is verbal. He cannot sign a national letter of intent until the NCAA early signing period in November.