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Panthers' Freeland, Marshall commit to UGA

Photo by Nate McCullough

Photo by Nate McCullough

Given the success of Parkview’s baseball program last season — its fourth state championship and first since 2002 — it isn’t surprising that major college programs are showing an interest in Panther players.

What may be a little surprising is that the attention isn’t only directed at the immediate senior class.

With their verbal commitments to the University of Georgia earlier this week, junior catcher Jarrett Freeland and sophomore pitcher Mac Marshall became the second and third Panther underclassmen to make such a declaration before their senior seasons, joining junior centerfielder Josh Hart, who committed to Georgia Tech earlier this summer.

“All these schools, they’re starting (to recruit) earlier,” Parkview coach Chan Brown said with a laugh. “But we’ve got a lot of talent coming through here right now. We’re hoping we can keep things going.”

That pipeline appears to be going strong with the early commitments of Freeland and Marshall to Georgia.

Both played a role in the Panthers’ Class AAAAA state title last spring. Freeland hit .400 with four home runs and 19 RBIs, including several key hits in the championship series against Hillgrove, while Marshall went 3-0 with a 3.50 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 21 innings as Parkview’s No. 3 starter as a freshman.

That pair and Hart join Matt Olson and Jack Esmonde in making five players off the title team to commit to major Division I programs.

Olson (Vanderbilt) and Esmonde (Georgia) are also part of what figures to be one of Gwinnett’s most decorated senior classes, with no fewer than eight seniors already committed to big-time programs, including Buford’s Sam Clay (Georgia Tech), Duluth’s Zack Erwin (Clemson), Hebron Christian’s Mason Felt (Oregon State), Norcross’ Chris Raasch (Vanderbilt), Brookwood Lucas Sims (Clemson) and Providence Chistian’s Christin Stewart (Tennessee).