CLINTON, Wis. - Clinton senior Justin Langley always knew he wanted to play Division 1 baseball and now he will have that chance.
The 6-foot-6 left hander signed a letter of intent with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Friday night, achieving his dream of playing collegiate baseball.
"It was where I felt the most comfortable and it felt right there," Langley said. "I wasn't just a number on their list. I was a person they wanted to get to know before anything else."
Head coach Scott Cernek was very proud of Langley's achievement as he's been able to watch Langley grow from a thrower to a refined pitcher.
"I think it's a great achievement for Justin," Cernek said. "He's come so far physically and mentally as an athlete and I know he had his sights set on a D-1 scholarship and it's a great achievement."
With a projectable body and a solid fastball and curveball, Langley, who hopes to major in sports medicine or physical therapy, received looks from a number of schools and the decision to become a Panther was not an easy one. However, now that the decision has been made he is very pleased with how everything worked out.
"This was a big weight off my shoulders," Langley said. "I thought about it for months. They (Milwaukee) said I needed to make a tentative choice by last Saturday and the whole day was so nerve racking, but once I called the coach and said I was going there it was such a relief."
Last season, Langley helped lead the Cougars to a regional title thanks in large part to two men who know a little something about pitching, Dan and Denny Scarpetta. Denny's son Ryan was a standout at Hononegah and should be drafted next year while Dan's son Cody was called-up to Milwaukee's bullpen for a game last season.
"Basically, Dan and Denny Scarpetta are the reason I am the pitcher I am today," Langley said. "I started going to Dan Scarpetta the last three years and he restructured my mechanics and then he introduced me to his brother (Denny) and I played for the Boys of Summer, an 18 and under league, when I was 15. It was intimidating at first, but he helped me perform in high pressure situations."
Langley calculated that he has thrown a little over 100 innings over the past two summers to go along with his in season work. That extra practice and repetition have been the biggest help to Langley, but Ryan Scarpetta was a big help as well.
"Ryan was kind of the guy who brought me into the team (Boys of Summer)," said Langley. "He is really good, so I obviously I learned a lot just by watching and talking to him."
Cernek agreed that the summer work was invaluable in Langley's development.
"I think the work he got with Denny Scarpetta was priceless," Cernek said. "We can do so much in a high school season, but for a kid to take that initiative and fine tune his skill shows a lot determination and desire and it's paid off."
Langley said he thought about going to a two-year school then transferring to a larger university, but decided he needed to mature both physically and mentally and Milwaukee provides the best opportunity for that.
"I just felt like I needed to mature as a baseball player and a person to take on the challenge of playing professional baseball," Langley said.
If Langley does mature and grow more into his body, he has the potential to be an outstanding collegiate pitcher.
"I think he'll grow so much in his pitch selection and change of speeds," Cernek said. "He's throwing in the mid-80s and if he can develop and command a changeup and see his velocity increase over these next few years, his potential is very high. He is what programs look for."