Midway senior Chandler Williford, of Newton Grove, will take his talents to the next level, as he has signed to play baseball at Campbell University.
“It’s a small school and a good baseball program,” Williford said. “I love the coaches over there, coach (Justin) Haire and coach (Chris) Marx. It’s a good program. They’re rebuilding. A few rough seasons in the past, but they had a great season last year (Campbell went 35-26 overall and 21-6 in Big South Conference play and won the conference tournament to reach the NCAA tournament). The future’s bright for Campbell baseball.”
Williford actually signed during the signing period in November, but he and Midway baseball coach and athletic director Jason Fussell elected to wait until Wednesday to hold the ceremony recognizing his signing, to coincide with the start of baseball season.
Williford, who has been on the varsity squad for four years, is a right-handed pitcher who also plays at the third base spot for the Raiders. He said he was recruited as a pitcher for the Camels.
“P.O. is what I’m recruited for,” Williford said. “They call it P.O.: pitcher only. So, I’ll be a right-handed pitcher for them there. And I might get the opportunity to have a few at-bats, but it’s probably going to be minimal.”
Williford said that solely being a pitcher and not having to worry about other positions will take some of the pressure of when he is on the mound.
“It gets your mind focuses on pitching only,” Williford said. “You can spend a lot more time getting to know the batters you’re facing and getting to know the coaches and stuff like that. Getting to know the pitches you need to throw and specific counts. You don’t need to worry about hitting or what you need to do on the next at-bat, so you only have one thing on your mind.”
Williford said that Matthew Barefoot, who also played baseball and is currently a redshirt junior on Campbell’s baseball team, and his brother, Cameron Barefoot, a junior on Midway’s baseball team, were influences on his decision.
“Matthew Barefoot was a big one (influence),” Williford said. “I actually play with his brother. Me and Matthew talked and he loves Campbell. He loves the program there and Cameron does, too. They speak highly of the program. That kind of had an influence on me. I kind of wanted to go there because of them and they kind of helped the decision. The decision was made easier with what they had told me about it.”
Williford plans to major in Biochemistry at Campbell on the pre-med track and hopes to go Campbell’s Medical School. He said he hopes to be able to play baseball professionally and when his playing days are over, he wants to enter the ophthalmology or sports medicine and orthopedic surgery field.
“My parents are both in the health field, so it kind of influenced my decision to go that track,” Williford said. “I’ve toured the med school there and it’s a really nice place and really new.”
Williford cited a standout memory of his time playing baseball at Midway was the Raiders’ 8-0 win at East-Central 2-A Conference opponent East Duplin last season.
“We went on the road to East Duplin and they were known as the powerhouse in the conference,” Williford said. “We ended up coming out with the victory, 8-0. It was a very good team win. I know me and another pitcher (then freshman Sawyer Sutton) combined for a one-hit shutout. It was a very good game and we just played well as a team. I enjoy the team play we have at Midway.”