By TIM GAYLE
Alabama Christian Academy senior MJ Galloway had a couple of four-year offers he was considering, but the baseball standout said he wanted to keep his Division I-A offers open by signing with a junior college.
Last Thursday morning, Galloway signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Coastal Alabama Community College in Bay Minette next season.
“I wanted to go the juco route so I could work hard and get D-I offers after that,” he explained. “I just want to work hard and see how far I can go and how good I can be. Just give it my best to make it happen.”
Galloway is among the top players in the area at the plate, at shortstop and on the mound after starting for three years and playing since the eighth grade on the ACA varsity.
“Thinking about MJ and his athletic ability, his work ethic is impeccable and he’s a team leader,” ACA coach Don Gilliam said. “MJ is a better person than an athlete. That’s what made him a great athlete. And being able to come here and play for us and then sign with Coastal Alabama speaks volumes, humbly, about our program here. For us to have a part in the development of MJ Galloway has been a true blessing for our ACA community. MJ has left a legacy for younger players to follow. That legacy is you come early, you stay late and you’re never, never satisfied with what you did today.”
“He may also see time on the hill as a closer,” Gilliam said. “After Coach Larker first saw MJ, it was a matter of days before he called me and said I want this guy in our program.”
Galloway, meanwhile, said he is open to playing either as a middle infielder or as a pitcher, depending on how he can best help the team.
“He told me to see which one I was better at when I went up there, so I don’t really know yet,” Galloway said.
Alabama Christian’s Darcy Sanford always had a connection with Harding University, but it wasn’t until recently the senior decided she wanted to attend college at the Arkansas Division II school.
Sanford’s brother Dirk, an all-star quarterback for his father’s team at Woodlands Christian School, had accepted a scholarship to play football at Harding and when Dirk’s younger sister visited the place, she fell in love with the school all over again. Her grandfather had played football there and her great grandfather John Prock is the school’s winningest football coach after coaching the football program from 1964-87.
“I never really saw myself going to Harding,” she said. “I knew that too well, it just seemed too comfortable. Then I got extremely excited as it all fell into place. Seeing my brother play football there last year got me really excited. The Lord just worked His way and here I am.”
Dirk is now a walk-on linebacker at Texas A&M but that didn’t deter Darcy from signing a letter of intent on Thursday morning to attend the university and run the heptathlon for veteran coach Steve Guymon next season.
“She’s just a tremendous human being, above being just a talented athlete,” said ACA track coach Bill Moore, who hired Darcy’s father Nate this past year, forcing Darcy to move from Woodlands, Texas to Montgomery. “This is something she’s worked really hard for. She came in to a new situation, new school, new environment and dove right in head first.”
Sanford is among the state’s top performers in the shot put, discus, hurdles and high jumps, preparing her for a collegiate career in the heptathlon, which counts seven events – 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter dash, long jump, javelin and 800-meter run.
Montgomery Academy senior Garrett Sanderson thought about his academics first, then accepted a scholarship offer to Harding University to continue his basketball career.
Sanderson was the leading scorer for the Eagles this past season and a member of the Montgomery Independent’s All-Capital City Conference team selected by the coaches. He considered several programs, including the one his father coaches at Faulkner University, before selecting the Division II Arkansas school.
“I actually had a couple more schools I was looking at,” he said. “I looked at Westmont (College), out in California, I looked at Sewanee and of course my dad would have wanted me to come play for him but those schools didn’t have the engineering degree that I want. Then Harding came along with a scholarship and an engineering school that has some weight to it, so I decided to go there.”
Sanderson said the school’s reputation placed it high on his parents’ wish list, which led to an offseason workout to earn a scholarship offer.
“My parents really wanted me to go to school there,” he said. “They really liked the atmosphere. We had a buddy, who is an assistant girls’ coach at Faulkner now, who called them and said, ‘Hey, the coach’s son here is doing well. You should have a look at him.’ They weren’t able to make it down during the season but they actually came down out of season. I played with my dad’s team, played some pickup, and they liked what they saw. They asked me to come and visit. I got a chance to play with their guys some, got to hang out with them and it was a good fit.”
Sanderson, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard, is one of five signees at Harding this year. Veteran coach Jeff Morgan, who will be entering his 25th season next year, has to replace two seniors on a team that finished 14-13 in 2017.
“Playing with those guys shows a lot about where you are going to stand with that,” he said. “Leaving there, I felt I could contribute right away. Hopefully I can get out there and possibly help next year.”