Amber Helton and Chris Collins were among those present to watch Gordon Lee senior Griff Collins sign on to play baseball at Motlow State in Tennessee. Also there for the ceremony were Gordon Lee assistant coach Thomas Gray, Gordon Lee head coach Mike Dunfee, Gordon Lee assistant coach Derek McDaniel and Gordon Lee principal Michael Langston.

It's been an historic run for the Gordon Lee Trojans in baseball over the past several years and a valuable member of the club will be soon moving on to play at the next level.

Griffin (Griff) Collins added his name to the long list of Trojans who have gone on to play in college as he signed his name to paperwork with Motlow State on Monday.

"(This day) is just everything I've worked for since I was a kid," Collins said. "Everything (has been) leading up to this. All the hard work and dedication just came together today."

Blessed with speed and radar-like precision when it comes to tracking down flyballs in the outfield, Collins has given the Navy-and-White both speed on the basepaths and sure-handed defense in each of his four seasons in Chickamauga.

"He's been a part of it, even his freshman year," head coach Mike Dunfee explained. "He ran the bases for us when he was younger and depending on who was pitching, he would play rightfield for us. We would DH for him (back then), but he could always track them down in the outfield, and he's always been able to run. He even got a start for us in the state championship series that year."

Dunfee said Collins was set to be an everyday player in the lineup last year when COVID-19 shut down the season. However, the senior has made up for lost time this spring. He is currently batting .292 with a .436 on-base percentage to go with three doubles, one homerun, 14 RBIs and nine stolen bases.

Already with state championship rings as a freshman and as a sophomore, Collins is part of a potent Gordon Lee lineup that is taking a 27-2 record and a No. 1 state ranking into the 2021 Class A Public School state tournament as they eye a third consecutive title.

Collins said he chose the Tullahoma, Tenn. school because of the coaches and the environment. He will also be part of a new-look Bucks' roster that will include at least four players from the Catoosa-Walker County area next season.

"I already know some of the players (that will be) going there and I really like the environment," he added. "It's just a great place.

"I think I'll be a real good asset to the team. I want to be somewhere near the top of the lineup and be able to lock down the outfield."

"I was really excited for him (last year) and he was really taking off (when the season was shut down)," Dunfee said. "But this season, he's picked it right back up where he left off. He's a solid player with really good wheels who can really play defense. He's definitely a quality kid and a hard worker. He's got a passion (for baseball) and he just loves the game."

Collins said he plans to study pre-physical therapy while at Motlow and get an Associates' Degree so he can continue his education in physical therapy down the road.

Scott Herpst is sports editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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