Panther to Panther: Baley Coleman bids a heartfelt goodbye to LaGrange College, transfers to Georgia State
Published 10:00 am Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Baley Coleman put together quite the career at LaGrange College. The Panther graduate was one of the best pitchers in LaGrange College baseball history, but his collegiate baseball career has not ended yet. Coleman announced this month that he will be making the jump from Division III baseball to Division I baseball for his graduate year. He will be trading in the Panther red and white of LaGrange College for the Panther blue and black of Georgia State.
“Georgia State reached out, and it felt like they really wanted me there,” Coleman said.
Coleman’s LaGrange College resume speaks for itself and he had little left to accomplish at the school, but this transfer was one of the hardest decisions he has ever had to make.
“I really had to think about it,” Coleman said. “Leaving a place like LaGrange with all the success that we’ve had and with all my friends being there was tough.”
The college and the town have meant everything to Coleman over the last five years. He came to town as a wide-eyed timid young man and leaves as a fully formed adult, confident in his decisions on and off the baseball diamond.
“I really found my way to being the person I was supposed to be at LaGrange,” Coleman said. “I honestly don’t know where I would be without LaGrange College baseball, which is what makes this so hard.”
The Hiram native spent five seasons at LaGrange College. After sitting his freshman season, he got a chance to get on the field during his second year with the school. Across his four years on the diamond, he pitched a whopping 253.1 innings with a 3.73 ERA. His numbers were great, but Coleman was always focused on the collective.
“I’m incredibly happy with what we were able to accomplish,” Coleman said. “I believe we did everything we could besides winning the World Series.”
Coleman is still all about “we” and not “me” as he adjusts to life in Atlanta with his new Panther family.
“I was given the opportunity to improve myself at Georgia State this upcoming year, and I plan to keep improving,” Coleman said. “I want to go up there and join a team that wants me just as badly as I want to play for them.
“It’s so easy to say I want to go up there and throw a bunch of innings and win a bunch of awards, but honestly I want to go up there and do whatever I can to help the team win.”
Coleman leaves on good terms with the program and the school. In fact, it was baseball head coach David Kelton that helped push Coleman to make this decision.
“Coach Kelton approached me back in November or December and told me that I was receiving a little bit of interest from Division I programs,” Coleman said. “I have always had the aspiration to play at a Division I level with the big lights and the big stage. I sat down with coach Kelton, and we decided that for me as a player, going to Georgia State would be the best option.”
Kelton has been more than a coach to Coleman over the years. He has been a support system, a mentor and someone Coleman can always rely on to give him the right advice. Kelton’s humanity early in the recruiting process led to Coleman deciding LaGrange College was the right fit for him and the rest is history.
“Every time I was thinking about another option for college, coach Kelton would reach out and get in touch,” Coleman said. “Coach Kelton stayed in contact with me constantly and always made me feel like I had a future at LaGrange College and beyond.”
While his time as a Panther was full of happy memories, like claiming five straight regular season conference titles, and, of course, being a major contributor to the team that made the first Division III World Series in program history. But there were also moments of tragedy. In the spring of 2022, fellow Panther pitchers Stephen Bartolotta and Jacob Brown passed away after a major car accident. Walking across the stage to receive his diploma just a week afterwards served as one of the most bittersweet moments of his young life.
“A week after Bart and Brown died I walked across the stage and Dr. Baxter, the president of LaGrange College gave me my diploma and gave me a hug, and that’s a moment I will take with me forever,” Coleman said.