GLASGOW — Justin Combs, a senior at Barren County High School, signed his letter of intent to play baseball at Roane State Community College during a ceremony Friday at BCHS.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Combs said of getting the opportunity to play at the next level. “You dream about it as a kid, but you really don’t think it’s going to happen.
“And then it really does. It’s hard to think about. It’s really cool.”
Combs said when he visited Roane State, which is located in Harriman, Tennessee, it felt like home.
“It’s a little school,” he said. “So I’m going to enjoy that a lot.
“It’s going to be pretty fun. It felt like family as soon as I got down there.”
The senior pitcher and first baseman said his fellow Trojans have meant a lot to him.
“They’ve supported me through everything,” Combs said. “Even if I have a bad game — they’ll be there and just talk me up.”
During the signing ceremony, Barren County Athletic Director Warren Cunningham said they are very excited for this opportunity for Combs and his family.
“Very proud of his accomplishments and all the things that he’s helped our baseball program do over the past few years,” Cunningham said. “He’s been a big part of the success that we’ve had over the last few years, and very proud of him and appreciate the time and effort that he’s put into our baseball program.
“So this is a big day for him, a big day for his family, and we’re all very proud of him.”
Barren County baseball coach Blake Crabtree said Combs has had “a really good career here at Barren County.”
“He’s thrown a lot of district games for us,” the Trojan coach said of his senior pitcher. “And hopefully he still has some good starts left in him as we finish up this season.
“But he’s had a great career — and as far as the coaching staff — we wish him nothing but the best.”
According to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) website, Combs finished his junior season ranked fifth in Kentucky in strikeouts — with 109 — pitching 65.1 innings in 29 games. He had a 1.82 ERA and was ranked 89th in the nation in strikeouts, according to MaxPreps.com.
Last season, the Trojans (15-15) went 11-7 in Region 4 and 4-4 in District 15, and they defeated Monroe County 1-0 in the district championship game before falling to Cumberland County 5-3 in the Region 4 tournament.
Combs previously told the Daily Times that his most memorable game in a Trojan uniform was last season’s district championship against the Falcons.
“It was a great win,” he said.
In seven innings on the mound, Combs struck out 12 Monroe County batters, striking out three straight in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings.
After the game, former Barren County baseball coach JR Estes said Combs’ pitching performance that night was special.
“I knew we would get a good one from him,” Estes said. “He went 120 pitches and just threw his tail off.”
When asked what advice he would give to young baseball players who eventually want to compete at the collegiate level, Combs said to “just work as hard as you can.”
“Never give up.”