On the diamond this past spring, Eloy Ramirez made his home in right field or on the mound for Hernando High.
He'll soon relocate to Mobile, Ala., as he begins attending Bishop State Community College, where he signed to continue his baseball career.
"It's definitely a new experience," Ramirez said. "It's the next level of baseball and I'm very excited to play."
Considering his mother's side of his family hails from Alabama, he won't feel like he's in unfamiliar territory.
Ramirez also considered FAMU, Lake-Sumter Community College, Polk State College and Florida Gulf Coast University.
Bishop State came into play in part because Hernando head coach Tim Sims, a University of Alabama alum, was familiar with a coach there, Ramirez said.
"I went up there to visit and it felt like home," said Ramirez, who received a full scholarship. "That was the best offer given to me. They responded to everything, my emails, and gave me good feedback.
"It felt like I accomplished a lot. It was hard going to all the tryouts and showcases and not getting feedback. So when I finally (signed), it felt like an accomplishment."
Ramirez is the fifth member of this year's Leopard squad to ink with a college, following shortstop Christian Arroyo (University of Florida), pitcher/outfielder Brandon Lawson (USF), pitcher/third baseman Trae Ratliff (St. Johns River State College) and first baseman Brooks Timmons (South Georgia State College).
Arroyo, however, won't be playing for the Gators after signing with the San Francisco Giants, who selected him in the first round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in June.
Hernando finished the season 24-6, capturing a district championship and advancing to the Elite Eight for the fourth straight year.
???Ramirez spent the past two seasons on varsity, appearing in 19 games as a junior. He only made 22 plate appearances, and pitched in seven games, going 1-2 with a 4.67 earned run average.
As a senior, he became an everyday player and a contributor all the way around. Though he hit just .221 with 11 runs batted in over 28 games, he displayed his athleticism with solid defense in right.
Pitching, the right-hander compiled a 4-0 mark with a 2.13 ERA, striking out 28 batters over 26.1 innings of work.
"I felt like I was part of it," Ramirez said. "I felt like I needed to be a part of this journey. I felt like I could have done more, but I'm happy with where we ended up."
Along with Kyle Kilbourne, Ramirez provided the Leopards with pitching depth behind established aces Lawson and Ratliff.
"It definitely made me better," Ramirez said of complementing that duo. "When you have pitchers like that, you've got to compete."
It appears pitching will be Ramirez's forte at Bishop State, as he it has been for most of his playing days, which began 10 years ago in the Hernando Youth League.
He'll also keep playing some outfield, a position he only picked up two years, having previously been a second baseman.
His long-term plans are to transfer after two years, as he pursues a degree in occupational therapy and also hopes to keep playing. In the meantime he'll try to help the Wildcats, coming off a 5-33 campaign.
"I simply want to be a star up there in Alabama," Ramirez said, "at whatever I do."
By the numbers: Eloy Ramirez
YR AP GS IP H R ER BB KO W L ERA
Jr 7 2 18.0 14 16 12 10 19 1 2 4.67
Sr 7 5 26.1 27 11 8 11 28 4 0 2.13
Totals 14 6 44.1 41 27 20 21 47 5 2 3.16