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Whiteland grad sees little travel time in near future

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Ashton Perritt spent last weekend 40 miles off the Florida coast as part of a fishing expedition with friends.

He claims to have the sunburn to prove it.

The former two-sport star at Whiteland Community High School needed a much-deserved hiatus from all things baseball, even if only for a few days.

Drafted in the 17th round of the MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves on June 7, Perritt, who recently wrapped up his junior season at Liberty University, had been given much to mull over.

The hard-throwing relief pitcher figured he would hear his name called the previous day when Rounds 3-10 were being conducted.

He didn’t. The fallout included Perritt giving a polite “Thanks, but no thanks” to the contractual terms later offered by representatives of the Pittsburgh Pirates (Round 11), Colorado Rockies (13) and Anaheim Angels (15).

Then, without warning, the Braves called.

What makes Atlanta so intriguing is the Liberty campus, located in Lynchburg, Virginia, is 450 miles northeast of Turner Field where the parent club plays home games.

Moreover, the franchise’s Rookie League affiliate is the Danville (Virginia) Braves 70 miles to the south.

Better yet, Perritt claims Calvin Falwell Field, 10,000-seat home of Lynchburg Hillcats of Advanced Class A, is no more than a 10-minute drive from his off-campus residence.

“It came by surprise because normally they call you (before selecting). Atlanta didn’t call me. They called me afterward, and my phone started ringing off the hook with congratulations and stuff like that,” Perritt said.

“I’ve been a Braves fan probably since the beginning of college. It seems like they have good class, good character and a huge fan base. And they win games, and that doesn’t hurt.”

Liberty finished with a 41-18 record this spring, including a 23-3 ledger in the Big South Conference. The Flames made it to the Charlottesville (Virginia) Regional, bowing out with a 5-2 loss to Bucknell.

Perritt started in center field and batted leadoff against the Bison, going 2 for 4 at the plate with a run scored.

An outfielder when not pitching, Perritt started all 58 games he played, batting .279 with 12 doubles, two triples and a pair of home runs. He also led the Flames in stolen bases against league opponents with seven.

Perritt also posted a 1-2 mark with a 1.52 ERA as Liberty’s closer. He struck out 28 batters and walked five in 29 2/3 innings of work for a team-leading 12 saves.

Three of the saves came in conference where Perritt’s ERA was 0.87.

“Ashton was excellent on the mound all year for us. He started off slowly offensively, but started swinging the bat well the latter part of the year,” Liberty coach Jim Toman said.

“I think he will be really good off the mound when he decides just to pitch. Ashton was a big reason we were in our second-straight NCAA regional. We hope he will return for his senior year, but I will give him my blessings in any decision he makes.”

Perritt was the 517th selection overall at the 2014 MLB Draft. He was chosen only eight spots after Liberty teammate Ryan Seiz, a second baseman selected by the Angels.

Two more Flames players, first baseman/catcher Alex Close (Kansas City Royals) and pitcher Adam Parks (Texas Rangers), were taken in the 27th and 33rd rounds, respectively.

Late Sunday Perritt completed his tiring drive from Florida to Cotuit, Mass., home of the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod Baseball League.

Already six games into their regular-season schedule, the Kettleers have Perritt signed to a temporary contract. He’ll be in uniform at tonight’s game at the Bourne Braves and might see game action.

Perritt has until July 18 to decide whether he wants to sign with the Atlanta organization and forgo his final season at Liberty. Or he can return to Toman’s program in an effort to attempt to improve his draft standing for the 2015 MLB Draft.

“It’s a good position to be in. If I don’t go, I get to go back to a school I love and be a Flame for one more year,” Perritt said. “It’s the Braves, though, so it’s win-win either way.”

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