It’s those well-known words, “Let’s Play Ball” that Austin Marcellus hopes he will hear this fall to herald in one more season of U.S. University NCAA level 2 baseball.
The Pigeon Island Road, 22 year old has been south of the border for the last four years, attending school on partial baseball scholarships.
He first completed the two year college program at Lochawanna Collge and one year of ball (he was injured the first year), at Scranton, Pennsylvania, and then transferred to Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina. He graduated from Limestone this spring and completed his second year of college ball for the Saints.
Austin, who was team captain at both schools, is back home for the summer but is hoping to return to Limestone for one more season.
“I was injured in my freshman year at Lochawanna, which means I have another year eligibility to play ball.”
Having graduated from Lochawanna this spring with “my Bachelor degree in Sports and my Bachelor degree in Business, if I go back this year, I would get my Bachelor degree in Marketing and a Coaching Minor.”
Austin began playing ball when he was six or seven years old. “I didn’t play when I was really young, and when I did start it was because my mom forced me.” He is the son of Bert and Sandi Marcellus.
“I started playing here (Morrisburg) and played on some Upper Canada All Star teams. I played with the Bunnies (Brockville) for about five years.”
It wasn’t until he was a young teenager that Austin, who plays the infield moving around between second, third and shortstop, began to lean heavily towards baseball.
“I was always excited about playing hockey when I was growing up. I actually thought I was better at hockey. Guess I just wanted to be different,” he says of his success on the ball diamond.
It was while he is was in grade 12 at Seaway District High School, that Austin began looking around for a U.S. baseball scholarship. He went to work sending a number of applications out and the result was the partial scholarship at Lochawanna.
“At Lochawanna, we won our conference both years, and we won the North East Region both years.” That put the team in the Jucco Division 2 World Series, both years in Enid Oklahoma.
Although Austin was injured his first year out, he recalls his first experience at intense training. “My junior college, the only way to describe it is if you’ve ever seen military training, that is what it was like. They are there to win, and you are there to play baseball. At the Junior College level there are no rules, so we would practise 10 hours a day around our studies. We would start at 6 a.m., go to class until noon and then practice until 8 at night.” The college baseball season runs from early February to the end of May.
In contrast, once he transferred to Limestone, there were some time guidelines that restricted practise to five to six hours per day.
This spring, Marcellus had a solid season with the Saints who play in the 12-school Carolinas Conference. At five foot 10 and 175 pounds, he had a .331 batting average and was named the Limestone College Saints, Best Offensive Player. He also led the team in stolen bases and was second in RBIs. As a team, “we didn’t do that good.”
Marcellus would like nothing more than to return to Limestone for one more year. Down the road he says he would like to be coaching at the college level, but right now, he just wants to play ball.
“I am kind of hoping baseball takes me somewhere. I am too old to get drafted, but I’d like to play some independent ball, or I might try to go to Australia. There’s lots of ball to play, now it’s finding a spot.”
Marcellus does have a spot with the Saints again this year, but again on a partial scholarship. So it is the remaining tuition money that is his consideration.
He is working the summer in interlocking landscaping, which helps to keep him in shape and is playing ball with the Capital City Reds in Ottawa which offers ball to college eligible “amateur” players. The Reds have games against teams in the Elite U-18 Summer Baseball program, college summer teams and with semi-pro and professional level teams.
Coming off a good college season with the Saints and playing well with the Reds, Marcellus is hoping he has himself positioned for the opportunity to play ball next season.