Storm’s Path

New Market Rebel's center fielder Storm Edwards is off to a strong start this season for the Rebels. Rich Cooley/Daily

NEW MARKET — As his senior year of high school was coming to a close, Storm Edwards had a huge decision to make.

The Hendersonville, North Carolina, baseball prospect was being looked at by pro scouts, and was expected to be selected in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft.

Edwards decided he wanted to go to college at North Carolina State University and not turn pro, and let the scouts know so they wouldn’t waste a pick on him. He said he felt he needed more time to improve and thought the college game would help develop his game to where it needed to be.

Over a year later, the current New Market Rebel is still happy with his decision.

“It was one of the toughest decisions of my life,” Edwards said. “It was also the biggest decision of my life, because I chose one completely different path than what the Major Leagues would have taken me, but I think it’s paying off.”

New Market Rebel's center fielder Storm Edwards watches his ball go foul during a recent game with Charles Town at Rebel Park. Edwards is hitting .324 this season. Rich Cooley/Daily

Things did not take the turn that Edwards was hoping out of high school. Edwards suffered a concussion this year before N.C. State’s season began and had to redshirt in his freshman year.

The Wolfpack had a great season, finishing with a 36-23 record and an NCAA tournament appearance. The Wolfpack lost in the ACC tournament championship to Florida State.

“They were doing really well, so it was hard for me to watch and not be there,” Edwards said of the Wolfpack’s postseason success.

He came to the Rebels this summer mostly looking to get some at-bats against college competition for the first time.

Edwards said he was a little nervous at the start of the season.

New Market Rebel's center fielder Storm Edwards will play in the Valley Baseball League All-Star game on Sunday in Harrisonburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

“Before the season started, coach pitched scrimmage. My first at-bat I struck out,” Edwards said. “I was like, ‘this is going to be a long first part of the season.'”

It turned out that Edwards didn’t have much to worry about. Edwards started the season off scorching hot. He was batting .400 after the first nine games of the season.

Edwards said he was surprised at well he started off. He has since cooled off a little, and said pitchers have began to make adjustments to him.

“At the beginning of the summer season I was looking for anything in the strike zone, so I could just get some hacks out there, get in a groove,” Edwards said. “Now that the season is getting closer to the end, teams are starting to figure out how to pitch to me.”

Edwards is currently batting .324 (24 for 74) with two homers, 16 runs scored, six stolen bases and 13 RBIs. He said that he has talked with his coaches about making adjustments at the plate, and it’s something that he is still working on.

New Market manager George Schaefer said that Edwards has a great work ethic, and is doing the right things.

“You have to continue to work on your swing, keep battling and coming to the ballpark every day willing to get better,” Schaefer said. “He has that mindset and mentality. It’s about keeping him energized and keeping him going. He wants to learn. He’s eager to succeed and he is putting in the work.”

Defensively, Edwards is fast in the outfield and has a cannon for an arm. In a game earlier this week, he threw out a Charles Town runner at home with a perfect throw from center field.

“He has a tremendous arm and we’ve known that since he got here,” Schaefer said. “Any chance he gets to show it off, it’s fun to see.”

The strong season that Edwards has had helped earn him a Valley Baseball League All-Star spot in he game held this Sunday in Harrisonburg.

“It will just be a good experience,” Edwards said. “I’ve heard there will be a lot of scouts there. It will be a lot of energy. It will be a lot of fun to see the best pitching in the league, so that’s a positive.”

As a team, the Rebels have been struggling in losing eight of their last 10 games and are 12-18, but they are only two games out of a playoff spot.

Edwards said he’s enjoying his time in New Market, and still believes the team can have a lot of success.

“Right now we’re kind of in a rut,” Edwards said. “We started out 3-0. … We just need to get back on track. Our pitchers are doing well. We’re just not hitting behind them, and not playing too good of a defense behind them.

“We have the ability to win this league.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com