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February 8, 2012

Rebs land top Louisiana right-hander

With several top options to sort through, Ryan Leone was taking his time to make a college decision.

But when Leone realized nothing would change his mind, the Shreveport (Calvary Baptist), La., right-handed pitcher made his commitment public.

Leone committed to Ole Miss on Monday, choosing the Rebels over fellow finalist Alabama and other prominent programs - including LSU, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Stanford.

"It had a lot of factors, but I wanted to play in the SEC," Leone said. "The coaches - (Mike) Bianco, (Carl) Lafferty and (Cliff) Godwin - were great, and I absolutely fell in love with the campus and facilities.

"It just hit me one day that Ole Miss is where I needed to be. I told my dad, and he said to call them."

Leone, a member of the 2013 signing class, runs his fastball into the low 90s and features a "college-ready" curve and a change-up.

Ole Miss' recruitment of the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder was also noticed by Calvary Baptist head coach Rodney Traweek, who has led the Cavaliers to two state titles in the past five seasons.

"I was really impressied with how they recruited Ryan," Traweek said. "Lafferty did a super job communicating with everyone involved - including me.

"Ryan was pretty outspoken about the process, and Ole Miss was always the school mentioned. I just knew from day one that Ole Miss was going to be it."

Cavalry Baptist is a favorite for another state title this season after finishing second in 2011. Leone teams with top prospect Garrett Williams in the CBA rotation.

"We are blessed with a lot of talent," Traweek said. "The ball pops out of Ryan's hand. All three pitches are there already I think. You just love his demeanor and competitiveness."

Leone visited Ole Miss for the Alabama football game back in the fall with his younger sister and parents. From that point, the Rebels never left the top of Leone's list.

"My sister loved everything and wants to go there," Leone said. "My parents love Oxford. I was looking for great baseball and a small town. It was perfect.

"I called Lafferty first (to commit), and he was pretty excited. He was fired up."

Leone was 7-2 last season for the Cavaliers, striking out more than one batter per inning. He played this past summer with the Marucci 16's.


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