Buffs land HV's Cannon, Whitlock for baseball

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   Losing 15 seniors after an AAC Conference championship season, the Milligan College baseball team has been looking for players to rebuild and continue that tradition.
   This year, the Buffaloes only had to look upon neighboring Warrior Hill, where Happy Valley parted with two of its outstanding athletes.
   Cody Cannon and Cody Whitlock, stars in two sports for the Warriors, chose to continue their careers on the baseball diamond with Milligan, signing Friday with the local school.
   "You always look to get local players," said Milligan College coach Danny Clark. "We've built this program on it and the baseball here is better than almost anywhere in the state. It also generates more local interest in the team."
   Said Happy Valley coach Greg Hyder: "We try to keep kids going to college and these two deserve it. They work hard and will be going to a good program. I'm excited about seeing them here and being able to follow them.
   "Whitlock's great defensively and he brings a lot to the table with his tremendous speed. He's not a power hitter, but I feel like he can put it in play. Cannon's totally the opposite. He's a power hitter and an outstanding catcher, but he's versatile and may have to go to the outfield his first year there. He put up solid numbers every year for us."
   Cannon is an all-stater in baseball, and was honorable mention all-state in football. He is known for his outstanding catching ability, and had a strong year offensively, batting .386 with 27 hits, six doubles, three home runs and knocking in 31 RBIs.
   Said Clark: "We are losing our four, five and six batters, and that gives Cody an opportunity to come up and hit in the RBI slots."
   "I'm very exited," said Cannon. "Emory & Henry and other schools made great offers, but Milligan got involved and made a better deal for me. I'll get to play for an outstanding coach. They're a team on the rise, and I feel fortunate to be a part of their team."
   Whitlock was a strong player known for his speed on the diamond and the basketball court as a point guard. He hit .337 in 2003, with 15 stolen bases, 17 walks and eight sacrificed bunts.
   "I never really thought that I'd get to (play college ball)," said Whitlock. "Coach Clark was interested me and made my dreams come true. They're a program on the rise and I can't wait to get started. I think I'll fit in well there."
   "Whitlock has a great short game," Clark said. "We like to bunt and run, and he will help us out there."
   Both players got tremendous support from their families and others in the community.
   "My parents told me the whole time that anything I wanted to do, they would be behind me 100 percent," Whitlock said. "They're very supportive of me."
   "Everybody's been very supportive," said Cannon. "My mom's always been there and I want to thank Mike Cole and Tim Greene for being there over the years. My family has been a big part of my decision to stay here. They'll get to see me play more at Milligan since it's close."
   Both players got a lot from their high school coaches and will never forget their experiences at Happy Valley.
   Said Whitlock: "Coach Hyder taught me a lot and got my bunting game in place. It's been the greatest thing for me, and I'll never forget Happy Valley.
   "I've had a great career and I couldn't ask for better coaches," Cannon said. "Coach Hyder always got me going with his intensity and runs off of the fuel from the players. Coach (Stan) Ogg has always been there for me and wanted me to go on to school and play ball."
   "They are both good motivators. They can rip you up and pick you up. I've had a great career here, and I'm proud to be a Happy Valley Warrior."