Lakeside pair college bound

Wayne Staats/Staff
Lakeside pitcher Heath Durand (left) signed to play for Georgia Southern on Wednesday. Teammate Kody Belcher (right), an outfielder for the Panthers, signed to play for Kennesaw State.

Entering this summer, Heath Durand didn't think playing Division I baseball was a likely possibility.


But on Wednesday, the Lakeside right-hander made it a reality when he signed with Georgia Southern alongside teammate Kody Belcher, who will play at Kennesaw State.

"It takes the weight off my shoulders," Belcher said. "We thought about this for a while."

Both Durand and his mother, Michelle, said his involvement with Best 9 at tournaments this past summer gave him an opportunity to grab more peoples' attention.

Durand also played in Jupiter, Fla., in the World Wood Bat Championship for the Ohio Warhawks in October, though his mother said this summer was the biggest help in getting schools to show interest.

Durand's mother said with such a great collection of Lakeside players last season, her son probably didn't receive as much notice as others did, thus making this summer key in getting the opportunity to go to Georgia Southern.

The pitcher also got looks from schools including Columbus State, Kennesaw State and USC Aiken before he ultimately elected to sign with Georgia Southern.

Durand said he has wanted to play baseball there since he first got to high school. The Eagles finished their 2010 season at 34-24 and play in the Southern Conference.

Belcher, an outfielder, heads to an Atlantic Sun Conference school where he thinks he has an opportunity to earn some solid playing time his freshman season.

Kennesaw State went 23-32 in 2009 and typically plays Georgia Southern once every year.

Belcher said he also had interest in Georgia Southern, Mercer and South Carolina.

Before they take their talents to Georgia's collegiate level, however, the two have one more season at Lakeside.

The Panthers reached the Class AAAA championship series this past season, and Lakeside coach T.J. Davis said the team will depend on Belcher and Durand for another successful season.

After this final Lakeside season and school year, Durand gets to follow his sister in attending Georgia Southern.

"She'll definitely help me around the campus," he said.



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