Ringgold's Matthew Crownover (24) pitches against Riverwood during a recent game at Heritage High School. Staff Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press
RINGGOLD, Ga. — Despite what his fellow church members might have thought, Matthew Crownover did not get a visit from the Holy Ghost on Sunday night.
What the rising Ringgold High School senior baseball star did experience during the final stages of Sunday evening services was fairly powerful in its own right. A voice mail from Perfect Game USA’s Jerry Ford sent the usually-reserved Crownover unto a spontaneous celebration — just following the evening’s final prayer.
Ford’s message was culmination of a dream for Crownover, confirming that the left-handed pitcher had been chosen to play in the prestigious Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego on Aug. 14. The game, formerly known as the AFLAC All-American Game, pits the top 18 rising prep seniors from the West against the top 18 in the East.
Crownover was selected from a field that included 270 players that attended the Perfect Game Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla., last week. The Clemson University commitment, however, left Florida believing he had not made the team.
“They usually pull you aside following your last game and tell you if you’ve made it, but that didn’t happen after my last game, so I was kind of disappointed,” Crownover said. “But then during church I received a call, and when I checked the voice mail it was Jerry Ford and he said he thought we played again Sunday and was planning to tell me then.
“I was pretty excited and started celebrating right in church. Since I was 15 it’s been one of my goals. To think that I’m one of the 18 players in the entire East to be selected is really a great honor. I’ve been truly blessed.”
Participating in the game often leads to big futures. Since the game’s inception in 2003, 40 alumni have played in Major League Baseball, including last year’s National League Rookie of the Year, Buster Posey, and runner-up Jason Heyward. In addition, an eye-popping 98 alumni have been drafted in either the first round or been compensation-round pick, including the past two No. 1 overall picks, Bryce Harper and Gerrit Cole.
“It’s the most prestigious honor for a high school senior,” Ringgold coach Brent Tucker said. “It definitely puts Matthew as one of the top players in the country. He’s worked very hard for this.”
And that hard work continues. Crownover left for the Team USA trials today in North Carolina and has several more showcase tournaments scheduled this summer.
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...