Dreams to reality: Granger grad signs to play baseball Division I baseball at Mercer

Published 8:30 am Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Sometimes dreams do come true. It took almost 20 years of tireless work for LaGrange High graduate Zack Thompson to make his dream of playing Division I baseball a reality and it was sweet relief for the Gordon State sophomore to announce his next destination as Mercer University.

“One of the coaches at Mercer, coach (Matt) Williams reached out to me a couple of weeks ago and they invited me up on a visit and on that visit, they made an offer to me,” Thompson said. “I felt so thankful and excited. This feels like where I should go and I couldn’t help feeling thankful for God putting me where I’m at.

“I’ve wanted to play at the Division I level since far back as I can remember.”

Thompson, a member of the LHS class of ‘22, will be playing his second and final season of JUCO baseball in the spring with Gordon State before departing for Macon in the fall of 2024. Thompson weighed his options post-JUCO and found that Mercer felt the right fit for him.

“The head coach, Coach (Craig) Gibson has been there for 20 years and they have won over 35 games each year for over 10 years and they are the only Division I school to do that besides Vanderbilt and LSU, so it’s a great program and I’m fired up to be apart of it,” Thompson said.

Thompson has certainly set his sights on lofty goals with the Bears.

“I want to go in and earn the starting catching job, and I would love to win the Buster Posey award which is the award for best college catcher in the country,” Thompson said. “Why not try to be the best catcher in baseball?”

In the meantime, Thompson is focused on making his final season with Gordon State one to remember with his ultimate goal to win a conference championship.

“I’m excited to get to work this year, we want to win that conference title,” Thompson said. “It has been a goal of mine since I first got here last year.”

Thompson’s freshman year saw him make major strides on the diamond. He did not feel like he could compete at a Division I level out of high school, but with hard work, perseverance and the right environment to nurture him he feels equipped to try his hand at the next level.

“Coming out of high school I was not ready to play at a Division I level,” Thompson said. “I think I was good enough defensively, but not offensively. I didn’t hit for power enough, I didn’t drive in enough runs, but that is what I’ve been working on.”

The former Granger hit .286 with an on-base percentage of .362 to go along with 29 RBIs during his first year of college baseball. The next step? Get those offensive numbers up even higher.

“I want to hit .350 and I want to be all-conference first team, but those are just individual goals, we are focused on winning the conference and trying to earn a spot at the JUCO World Series.”

Thompson is not taking his final year at Gordon State for granted. He is Division I bound, but Thompson is not taking it easy now. It is just not in his DNA. 

“I’ve gotten better here, I’ve matured and I’ve learned so much about the game,” Thompson said. “I’m not done. I want to keep getting better so that I can have a chance to go into Mercer and start right away.”