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Georgetown visit finds Chesapeake#039;s Gilkison a home

CHESAPEAKE - A short visit has led to a long stay.

Last summer, Jeff Gilkison went with his Ashland (Ky.) Post 76 summer baseball team to a tournament at Georgetown College. Gilkison's play caught the eye of Tigers baseball coach Erik Hagen.

After following up on Gilkison's play, Hagen signed the Chesapeake Panthers senior standout to a letter-of-intent.

"They came to one of our tournaments and signed him with all the guys present," Post 76 coach Paul Lewis said.

"I talked to coach Hagen quite a bit. He became interested last fall when we played a couple of games at Georgetown. They got interested and kept up with him."

Although Gilkison played shortstop and pitched at Chesapeake, he has played left field for Post 76. Lewis said Gilkison made a smooth transition to the outfield.

"He's played real solid defensively. All four of our outfielders are playing college ball," Lewis said.

"I told him it was going to be different for him (playing the outfield). I told him that when he got to college that's where he'd play. He's not a natural infielder and he can run like a deer. And he's one of the hardest workers I've had."

As an All-Ohio Valley Conference first team performer for Chesapeake, Gilkison had a career batting average of .400 including .420 this past season. As a pitcher, Gilkison was 7-4 this past season.

"He didn't have great stats, but I always threw him against the good teams and we didn't give him much run support," Chesapeake coach Joe Waugh said.

"Jeff is a smart kid. He should do well. Once he matures, he's going to be a good player for them," Waugh said.

Gilkison said he will play the outfield for Georgetown but he is also expected to pitch. Gilkison doesn't mind filling the dual role.

"Coach Hagen said he wants to try me out for both," Gilkison said.

"I've mainly been a pitcher most of my life and I played shortstop through high school. The outfield position I've learned through summer ball. I played there some as a sophomore, so I played there in the summer and they just kept putting me there."

Gilkison said Georgetown's program has been down the past few years, but he said the Tigers show promise under Hagen who was the former strength coach at Ohio State.

"(Hagen) seems to know what he's doing," Gilkison said.

Although Gilkison wants to play on a regular basis, he understands there will be a transitional period going from high school to college.

"My expectations aren't really that high. Coming in as a freshman, I just want to work hard and hopefully earn a spot to play," Gilkison said.

Gilkison said playing on a summer league team has helped improve his game because of the competition.

"We played against good competition and I like that, too," Gilkison said. "(Playing college baseball) is something I've wanted to do for a long time. It's exciting. It's harder than summer ball so I'm going to have to work and be ready for it."

Gilkison said hitting will be an adjustment, but seeing good pitchers on a daily basis will help.

"It'll be a lot tougher than high school. I'll just have to practice more and get ready. Some of the guys played in summer ball and threw in the upper 80s," Gilkison said.

Jeff is the son of Jane and Greg Gilkison of Proctorville.