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Ford City's Retzer to pitch at West Liberty

| Friday, June 14, 2013, 1:01 a.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Kiski Valley's Justin Retzer fields the ball during the game against Penn-Trafford on Wednesday, June 12, 2013, at Freeport Community Park.

Justin Retzer didn't always think he would play college baseball, but one recruiting trip and some interest from coaches was all it took for him to pick a destination.

Retzer, Ford City's No. 1 pitcher and shortstop as a senior, will continue his baseball career at the next level when he joins the team at West Liberty University as a pitcher next season.

The credentials for Retzer are impressive — he was an all-Section 3-AA selection with an ERA below 2.00 this season. But his college recruitment was a short process after he was impressed with what he saw during a weekend at West Liberty, located 10 miles northeast of Wheeling, W.Va.

“I went there for that recruiting weekend, and everyone was real cool there — the players and the coaches,” Retzer said. “My (high school) coaches were telling me about some other schools I could have visited, but I just liked it there. It's somewhat close to home, and it's a small school.”

Retzer said he's eager to step in as a pitcher for the Hilltoppers, a Division II team that showed improvement this spring under first-year head coach Eric Burkle by reaching the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament after missing the postseason in 2012.

The Hilltoppers begin play this fall in the newly created Mountain East Conference, and Retzer hopes he'll be able to contribute to his team's first year in the new league.

“I've been a pitcher ever since I was little, so it's cool thinking I might get to be a college pitcher,” Retzer said. “The coaches there say I have a lot of potential, and a lot of the people I've talked to think I should do well there.”

That he will get a chance to play in college came as a bit of a surprise to Retzer, who said it wasn't until the later part of his high school career that he began to think of himself in that light.

“Growing up and going into high school, I didn't think I was really good enough,” Retzer said. “I went down there and pitched in front of college coaches for the first time, and I was just shocked that they liked me.”

Retzer is keeping busy this summer by playing for his high school coaches, Dave and Dennis Montgomery, on the Kiski Valley Legion team. While he plays in that league to stay in game shape, he's also receiving advice from the coaches at West Liberty on ways he can strengthen and maintain his arm before his arrival in the fall.

“Their coaches have been talking to me and updating me on the team,” Retzer said.

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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