The Ringgold Tigers added to its long and historic list of college baseball signings last Monday as hard-throwing righty Eli Norris signed on to continue his playing career with the NCAA Division II Carson-Newman Eagles.
Norris was joined by family, teammates, coaches and friends for the signing ceremony on Bill Womack Field.
"It means a lot," he said. "I never thought I'd get here, so this is really just a dream come true."
Norris, who has been playing baseball since the age of five, said he was drawn to the program because of head coach Tom Grifiin.
"Carson-Newman has a really respected program and (Griffin) is one of the most respected catching coaches. He's someone I've always looked up to and it's just a really great school."
Head coach Drew Walker said Norris has been a player that the Tiger coaches have had high expectations for ever since they saw him come up through the Ringgold Middle School program.
"We have big expectations for all of our guys, but especially for a big, strong kid like him," Walker said. "He has a power right arm and he goes through the process every day. He wakes up and his passion (for the game) drives him to get up out of bed every day.
"He's a great student in the classroom. He does what he is supposed to do. He eats right and, like we like to say around here, he drinks water like a champion. At practice, he doesn't just go through the motions. He's always working to get better every single day and the hard work has paid off for him. This is a huge day for him, his family and for the Ringgold baseball program."
Norris said he's looking to improve in a number of areas to get ready to play and pitch for the Eagles.
"There's a lot of things I need to work on, but throwing strikes is the main priority," he added. "I've always been a strong closer, so hopefully I can be there when they need me."
"At different levels, there's always different speeds of a game," Walker said. "He just has to work on staying around the (strike) zone with all of his pitches and continue to work on getting stronger in the weight room. He's already filled out, but he can always get stronger and add a little velocity.
"The competitive side of (the game) also changes a lot from high school to college. Getting on that mound and competing every single day and every single pitch is something he's going to have to learn to do. He's had a lot of success here at the high school level by just blowing it by people, so learning to spot-up and how to compete every pitch is something that he'll have to improve on for the next level."
Norris said he might follow his step-fathers' career path and study accounting in college.