C.K. Irby and Phillip Ervin lead the Samford University baseball team at the plate and on the mound. Both are juniors at Samford and neither has forgotten where they came from -- small town 2A high schools.
"People give me a lot of crap because I came from a small school," Ervin said. "They say you didn't play anybody."
That can be said no more. Over the summer, Ervin was named most valuable player of the prestigious Cap Cod League.
This season, he leads the team in home runs (9) and batting average (.368) -- Irby is second (.349).
As a starting pitcher, Irby has struck out 57 batters through 53.1 innings pitched.
"The stereotype, if you come from a little school, you're not going to be one of those high-caliber players," Irby said.
It's a small world, in small school baseball. Irby and Ervin met twice in the 2A high school state championship game; their sophomore and senior years.
Irby went to Mars Hill Bible School in Florence, Ala., and Ervin went to Leroy High School in Leroy, Ala.
"I really didn't know much about [Irby] until the championship game my senior year when they told me he's committed to go to Samford too," Ervin said.
"That series, in the championship game, the only thing I really remember was hitting the home run in the first inning off him," Irby said. "I don't really remember the rest of the game."
Three Samford coaches were scouting that game. One of those coaches, associate head coach Tony David, always seems to remind Ervin about giving up that "monumental" home run.
"We'll reference it occassionally on a really high home run by someone else," David said. "What does that remind me of? Oh yeah, the high school finals with you two guys. I kind of do the work for C.K. there."
Ervin and Irby split those state championship games. Leroy won during the their sophomore year, and Mars Hill Bible evened the score by winning the title in 2010.
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