Beach Bound: WGTC Baseball Standout Corey Fehribach Signs with Florida Gulf Coast

Beach Bound: WGTC Baseball Standout Corey Fehribach Signs with Florida Gulf Coast

CARROLLTON, Georgia – West Georgia Tech sophomore middle infielder and pitcher Corey Fehribach has signed with Florida Gulf Coast University, becoming the highest-profile transfer in the history of West Georgia Tech athletics.

Fehribach prepped at nearby Alexander High School in Douglasville and came to West Georgia Tech after walking on at Georgia Tech as a freshman and then transferring to Central Alabama Community College where he sat out a year due to transfer rules.

Fehribach moved on to West Georgia Tech where he played the past two seasons – becoming a key player in the Golden Knights lineup.

He leads the team and is 10th in the conference with a .361 batting average. He is fourth in the conference in both on-base-percentage (.481) and slugging percentage (.506). His 32 RBIs also ranks fourth in the conference and leads the team.

Defensively Fehribach played shortstop after moving over from second base after his freshman season. He took on the role as one of West Georgia Tech's starting pitchers after injuries to the West Georgia Tech pitching staff.

Fehribach was called upon to pitch in a relief role for a few appearances late in the season last year – pitching for the first time since his senior year of high school two years prior.

After his success as a Golden Knight, Fehribach has now earned a scholarship to play for head coach Dave Tollett and the FGCU Eagles, who play in the Atlantic Sun Conference on the NCAA Division I level.

Tollett – a three-time Atlantic Sun Conference Coach of the Year, is in his 12th season at the helm of the FGCU program.

The Eagles joined the Division I ranks four years ago and made an immediate impact by winning their first three A-Sun regular season titles as a member of the conference.

"I'm very proud of Corey and the hard work that he has put in over the past two years with our program to become a better player in all facets of the game," said West Georgia Tech head coach Todd Pratt. "He is an even better person, and he will do well on the next level."

Last year West Georgia Tech's baseball program saw all eight of its sophomores transfer on to four-year institutions – with six those eight continuing their baseball careers.

Fehribach joins Blake Butcher (class of 2014) as the second WGTC baseball player to transfer to an NCAA D-I institution to play baseball.

"If a kid comes here to West Georgia Tech and has the ability and also has the work ethic, he has an opportunity to continue his baseball careers at the next level," Pratt said. "We have proven that over the past five years as we have built this program. We've had great kids step in and work hard and eventually take their talents to the next level. That's big for our program, and Corey's signing with such a tradition-rich program as Florida Gulf Coast – I can't tell you how big that is for our program overall."

Fehribach's efforts on the diamond have been outstanding - but his achievements in the classroom are even more impressive.

The business major was on the President's List for the Fall Semester of 2014 and has a cumulative GPA of 3.5. He plans to pursue a degree in General Business at FGCU and wants to work in sports business once his playing career is over.

"I could see myself working in the front office of a pro team or working in collegiate athletics," Fehribach said. "Regardless, I want to stay in athletics but work on the business side."

Fehribach was one of four finalists at West Georgia Tech in the GOAL program – a statewide program of the Technical College System of Georgia, which honors excellence in academics and leadership among the state's technical college students. He was nominated by West Georgia Tech Accounting Instructor Gina McFarlin.

"Throughout my sixteen years of service, I have taught many students, but rarely have I had the pleasure of instructing a student like Corey Fehribach," McFarlin said. "He stood out in the crowd. He worked very hard and was dedicated to his studies. He is also very respectful and professional in all communications with me and his classmates."

Fehribach credited his instructors at West Georgia Tech for helping him become an even better student in college.

"West Georgia Tech has challenged me in ways that, to be honest, I didn't think it would," Fehribach said. "There is great interaction with the instructors and the classroom sizes are generally small so you can really get involved on a personal level with your instructors. They hold you to a high standard here. I think that is important in the overall learning process - and that has been a big help for me. My experience at West Georgia Tech will no doubt benefit me in my future studies at Florida Gulf Coast. I would put the business classes I have taken up against any four-year school, as far as the core classes are concerned."

Fehribach's road to West Georgia Tech, like many others who are currently enrolled or have passed through, is a story of a second chance – a story of redemption. After enrolling at Georgia Tech as a preferred walk-on, he decided it wasn't for him after just one semester.

So Fehribach transferred to Central Alabama Community College in the spring of 2013 and had pretty much given up on baseball.

"I had decided at that time to just focus on academics. I couldn't play baseball that spring anyway because of transfer rules and I had it set in my mind that I wasn't going to play anymore."

But that summer changed everything.

Fehribach had a change of heart and decided to play for coach Pratt on his collegiate summer league team, the Douglasville Bulls. After a few weeks under the tutelage of the former MLB catcher - where Fehribach hit over .300 - the itch to get back into the game returned.

And that brought him to West Georgia Tech.

"I love playing for coach Pratt," Fehribach said. "It was everything I expected it to be and so much more, to have an opportunity to play for someone who played in the Major Leagues. The knowledge of the game that he has surpasses most coaches. On and off the field he has always been there to support us – to talk about baseball and to talk about life."

Fehribach credited Pratt with the success that he has had at the plate. As a freshman, Fehribach hit .320 with 26 RBIs. And those numbers jumped up this season to a .361 average and 32 RBIs.

As Fehribach was closing in on making a decision on where to transfer just a few weeks ago, there was one school left that he wanted to pursue.

Florida Gulf Coast University is located in beautiful Fort Meyers, Fla., and Fehribach was familiar with the institution because he had family that once lived in the area.

"As I was narrowing my options down there was one last school I wanted to check out and that was Florida Gulf Coast," Fehribach said. "I asked coach Pratt to send them my information and see if there was some interest."

Pratt called FGCU head coach Dave Tollett on a Sunday, just a couple of hours before a FGCU home game. Tollett picked up the phone just prior to heading out to the field.

"I told him I had a kid who could really hit the baseball that he might want to take a look at," Pratt said. "He was on his way out of the office to get ready for the game but he said that he had been looking all up and down the Florida coast for a hitter and would give Corey a look."

Florida Gulf Coast coaches came the following Friday to Albany to scout Fehribach as West Georgia Tech played against conference power Darton State.

Fehribach drew a walk in his first at-bat. In his next at-bat he hit a line drive double off of the 400-foot wall in center field, which scored a WGTC run.

The next day, after West Georgia Tech and Darton finished a doubleheader, Fehribach received a phone call from Tollett as Fehribach was getting off of the bus.

"They offered me a scholarship on the spot, and I committed to them immediately," he said. "I knew that was where I wanted to go."

And how could he not? The Florida Gulf Coast campus is one of the few in the United States that actually has a beach on parts of the campus.

When asked if that factored into his decision, Fehribach chuckled.

"I'll put it this way," he said. "I've always wanted to play in a warm weather climate, and the temperature there stays the same pretty much year-round. When I was down there for a visit they told me a cold front had just come through and it was 75 degrees. But, yes, having that beach right there, that's pretty special."

With his strong academic record and work ethic, along with his versatility to play middle-infield, the ability to pitch if needed, and a strong bat in the line-up, Fehribach should do well at the NCAA D-I level.

Expect big things at Florida Gulf Coast from this local kid, who came to West Georgia Tech looking for a second chance to play the game that he loves.

"I'm just grateful that West Georgia Tech gave me a second chance at baseball, and I'm super excited about the future of the WGTC baseball program," Fehribach said. "I hope other student-athletes realize that if you send your mind to a particular goal and work hard - no matter where you are in life - you can achieve anything."

So for Corey Fehribach and many others before him, West Georgia Tech athletics continues to set the standard for second chances - and stories of academic and athletic success.

Courtesy WGTC SID Aaron Sones