When 2017 Quitman High School graduate Hunter Ford signed on Monday, June 14th, to pitch for Arkansas Tech University it was more than just a notice of a player continuing to play baseball – much more. What it represented is one of the most inspiring stories of determination and hard work you could ever hear of about young man who refused to give up on his dream.
Ford announced his commitment to ATU through the following Twitter post.
To fully appreciate Ford’s journey you have to go back to his senior year at QHS. He was a very accomplished athlete who won two firsts and two seconds at the state track and field meet to lead Quitman to the Class B state title and just as impressive on the diamond. Ford earned district MVP honors after compiling a sterling 12-2 record on the mound that included a microscopic 0.92 ERA while leading Quitman to a #2 ranking in Class B and an undefeated, district 2B title.
He had an wide arsenal of pitches including a fastball that clocked in the mid 80’s, a serviceable curveball and a knuckleball that he could spot for a strike at any time. Ford also had the rare ability to adjust his arm angles from pitch to pitch. One would come from straight over the top followed by another that looked like the ball was coming out of the dirt. Surprisingly though, despite the gaudy numbers and unique attributes, college coaches offering scholarships were non-existent. It was confusing to even his high school coach Joe Lockhart.
“Beats me” stated Lockhart, when asked why no one came calling. “Hunter has the best combination of ability, drive and mental toughness of any player I have ever been around. He would be an asset to any program.”
Despite the lack of attention, Ford was undeterred from pursuing his dream. He attended a summer camp in Shreveport sponsored by an organization called The Complete Showcase. At the end of the two day session, TCS Academy out of Dallas, TX offered Ford a scholarship to train at their state of the art facilities for one year, which would allow him to earn college credits but not jeopardize a year of athletic eligibility.
Ford quickly made a name for himself as a reliever for the school which led to him being offered a chance to play for Fort Scott Community College in Kansas. Through diligent work Ford added 15 pounds to his frame. He also added speed to his fastball after working with former major league pitcher and fellow Quitman High graduate Toby Borland. The result was that Ford blossomed this past spring. In 45.2 innings pitched he struck out 48 batters. He also won both of his starts, earned a save and became an integral part of the rotation late in the season that helped FSCC make a deep run in the NJCAA national tournament.
Now he will ply his trade for Arkansas Tech University out of Russellville, AR who won the Great American Conference regular season championship this past spring. It is a fitting destination for Ford as you would be hard pressed to find another player who best exemplifies the moniker the school uses. He is a true Wonder Boy!