Buddy Kennedy has wanted to play baseball at the University of North Carolina ever since he watched the Tar Heels reach back-to-back College World Series finals in 2006 and ’07.
The Millville High School junior made his dream come true on Wednesday when he made his verbal commitment to the program.
“I just feel very excited, I feel very excited,” Kennedy, 17, said. “It’s a great opportunity. My dream school has always been North Carolina since I was a little kid, when I saw them in the College World Series. The feeling now is awesome. I’m just speechless.”
Kennedy, who can’t sign his National Letter of Intent until next year, was also considering Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and East Carolina, where former Millville standout and reigning American League MVP Mike Trout committed before being drafted.
Kennedy is the second Thunderbolt to commit to a Division-I program since Trout did it in 2008, joining Andrew Biggs, who committed to Delaware State in 2012, according to Millville coach Roy Hallenbeck.
“We’re proud,” Hallenbeck said. “We feel like parents, these are our guys, our kids. We love them.”
Kennedy said he will play third base for the Tar Heels.
“It’s a great honor,” he said. “I know a lot of kids dream of going D-I, it’s not that easy to do, but it’s a great honor.”
Kennedy batted .386 with four homers and 26 RBIs for the Thunderbolts last season. He was also 3-3 as a pitcher with a 1.21 ERA.
While Kennedy could’ve waited to make his decision having just started his junior year, he said he wanted to get it over with.
“I wanted to get the school I love and get it out of the way and hopefully focus on the next opportunity,” he said, “which is becoming a professional baseball player like Mike.”
Josh Friedman; (856) 563-5257; firstname.lastname@example.org