National champion Virginia and Western Carolina University are two of the finalists in the recruiting process for Smoky Mountain’s Cal Raleigh.
The reigning Citizen-Times All-WNC Baseball Player of the Year hopes to choose between the Cavaliers, Catamounts and Florida State sometime this week.
Raleigh originally signed with Clemson in November, but asked for his release after the Tigers fired longtime coach and family friend Jack Leggett.
When reached on Tuesday, Raleigh and his father, Todd, were still in the middle of a nearly 2,000-mile trip by car to get a first-hand look at Charlottesville, Va., and Tallahassee, Fla.
“(Florida State and Virginia) were both great, unbelievable visits,” Todd Raleigh said.
“Cal has not made any kind of decision, but I would say it’s down to three schools. It’ll probably take another day or so, but Cal is the one who has to decide.”
Members of the Class of 2015 have until Aug. 1 to sign with an NCAA athletic program. The two ACC schools are recruiting Cal Raleigh solely as a baseball player, while WCU is offering the him the chance to play basketball as well.
Raleigh was an All-WNC player in both sports multiple times for the Mustangs and graduated high school in June.
Todd Raleigh coached the WCU baseball team from 2000 to 2007. He was the Southern Conference Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2007 before a three-year run at Tennessee.
As a senior, Cal Raleigh was primarily a catcher for Western North Carolina Athletic Conference champion Smoky Mountain (17-6). He batted .447 with 23 RBIs, 20 stolen bases, 10 home runs, five doubles and 31 runs scored. Cal Raleigh was 1-0 as a pitcher with a 3.62 earned-run average and eight strikeouts in 9.2 innings.
He was named the WNCAC Player of the Year, a Louisville Slugger All-American and part of the USA TODAY all-state team for North Carolina.
As the offer from WCU indicates, Cal Raleigh was one of the area’s top basketball players, too.
The Co-WNCAC Player of the Year averaged 21.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game, allowing Smoky Mountain (27-2) to reach the 2-A Western Regional championship game for a second consecutive year. Cal Raleigh was a Blue-White All-Star selection as a forward.
“I feel really honored with everything that has happened for me,” Cal Raleigh said recently.
“It’s nice to see that hard work pays off. I have a great family and a great community around me. That helps a lot.”
The Raleigh’s were racing back to Charlotte on Tuesday so Cal Raleigh could join Haywood County Post 47 (17-5) for its second-round American Legion playoff series against Mint Hill (18-1).
Game 3 and Game 4 (if necessary) of the best-of-five series will be played Thursday starting at 6 p.m. at Lake Junaluska Elementary School in Waynesville.