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Athletes hurry to make choices official

There is no point on waiting for a dream to begin.
 
That was the attitude taken by a large contingent of area athletes, who used the first day of the NCAA early signing period to sign letters of intent on Wednesday.

Led by an outstanding sports officially committed to their colleges of choice. The early signing period runs until Wednesday, and there could be as many as two dozen signing from the area before it ends.

In a testament to the area's baseball talent, seven players signed scholarships to play the sport at the Division I level and two more said they would sign today.

Joining the group was North Port High standout Shaun Noriega, the area's only Division I basketball recruit (University of South Florida), and Manatee High volleyball standout Courtney McDonald, who signed with Auburn.

Cardinal Mooney infielder Michael Heller and Charlotte High pitcher David Holmberg signed with Florida, Sarasota High shortstop Scooter Gennett accepted a scholarship to Florida State and catcher outfielder J.R. Murphy from the IMG Academy School signed with Miami.

Lakewood Ranch's highly touted catcher Mike Ohlman, who could go in the first round of the major league draft this spring, said he would sign today with Miami.

Braden River High outfielder/pitcher Nate Pittman plans to sign with Florida Atlantic today at noon, which would make him the school's first Division I athlete.

"It feels pretty special to be the first one from my school to sign a Division I scholarship. Signing at this level is a dream come true," Pittman said.

Garrett Custons, the Sarasota High catcher/outfielder, signed with the Air Force Academy.

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