Home Local Sports Trio of Post 49ers commit to Cleveland Community College

Trio of Post 49ers commit to Cleveland Community College

Left to right: Ra'Nes Little, Ra'Nik Little, Coach Chip Gordon and Trace Ricketts.
Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

HAMLET — Playing American Legion baseball for Hamlet Post 49 this summer has paved the way to the college level for three recent high school graduates.

Over the weekend, brothers Ra’Nes and Ra’Nik Little, along with Trace Ricketts, committed to play at Cleveland Community College, which is located in Shelby, N.C. 

All three graduated from Anson High School in 2021 and are current starters on the Post 49 team. Meeting with the trio of players after a recent game was ClevelandCC’s recruiting coordinator and assistant coach Chris Sherrill.

Ra’Nes was recruited as an outfielder, while his twin brother Ra’Nik was recruited as a pitcher and an outfielder. Ricketts will join the Yetis, who compete in the NJCAA’s Region 10, as a pitcher.

Hamlet head coach Chip Gordon said part of the experience of playing Legion baseball is to help get local players to the college level, and that he was proud to see the Littles and Ricketts commit.

“These guys were the three seniors on the team who were able to go play somewhere next year, but hadn’t had a lot of exposure or offers,” Gordon said. “When we restarted Post 49 baseball, the coaches and I set out that we were going to provide as much exposure as possible for all of our players.

“As the season progressed, we assessed their abilities and came to the conclusion that Ra’Nes, Ra’Nik and Trace all have what it takes to play in college,” he continued. “With COVID and college players being given an extra year of eligibility, it was hard to get recruited, but we knew there was a place for them.”

Gordon noted that several other schools came to evaluate the Post 49 players, but a “big selling point” for them was being able to stay together as teammates at ClevelandCC.

Ricketts, who was originally going to play for Hamlet last summer before the season got shut down, said he’s enjoyed the journey so far this year with Post 49. Working as a starting and relief pitcher, as well as a middle infielder, he explained this summer was about having fun while continuing to build his craft.

“It feels nice to be committed, especially when I never thought I’d go to play college baseball,” Ricketts explained. “We met with Coach (Sherrill) after a game and it was all new to me, but I felt like they wanted me to be a part of the team.

“I’ve got the rest of my life to work, so I wanted to go to school and play baseball while I have the chance,” he added. “I really liked the coach and the way he explained it. And it will be fun to have Ra’Nik and Ra’Nes as teammates for two more years.”

Ra’Nes recalled when Gordon met with the Anson baseball team to talk about trying out for Post 49, and said he’s glad he joined the team this summer. 

Playing any of the outfield positions for Hamlet, Ra’Nes explained he’s enjoyed meeting new teammates and improving on his defense and pitch selection at the plate.

“It’s a relief to be committed and now I can continue to work on my game,” Ra’Nes said. “It’s great to have two guys I’m comfortable with in Ra’Nik and Trace being there because it’ll help us settle in faster and we can go through the learning process together.

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“Playing for Coach Gordon and Post 49 this summer has really helped me a lot,” he added. “We’ve played against a lot of college-level pitching, which has prepared me for some of the things I’ll see in college. Cleveland felt like the best fit for me.”

Ra’Nik echoed his brother’s thoughts about playing for Hamlet, adding that suiting up for Post 49 has allowed him to gain extra reps at multiple positions. From that, he feels he’s gained extra exposure from college coaches, while improving on the mound and at the plate.

Another of Hamlet’s starting and relief pitchers, Ra’Nik has served as a versatile position player, also playing the outfield and at shortstop. 

“There have been a lot of good experiences this summer against some competitive baseball players and teams,” Ra’Nik said. “And we’ve been able to have fun at the same time. Being committed will give me another chance to play at a higher level and I’m most excited about the whole experience.

“Going the JUCO route was best for me, and I picked a school that showed me the most attention,” he added. “I felt most comfortable with Cleveland and it’s very cool to commit with my brother and Trace, and we can now learn more about the game together.”

When asked what he hopes to accomplish in college, Ricketts said he hopes to expand his repertoire of pitches while growing into a better baseball player. He also wants to contribute to ClevelandCC winning as many games as possible.

Ra’Nik explained he wants to “continue building my skills as a baseball player” and hopes to see his time at ClevelandCC pay off to join a four-year program. He said his dream is to play professional baseball, whether it be the minor or major leagues.

Ra’Nes added that his primary goal will also be to improve on the diamond and get picked up by another school while earning his two-year degree. 

“Ra’Nik takes a very live arm and speed on the bases, two things you can’t teach, to college,” Gordon said. “He has a good bat and has a lot of tools that he’s been inherently gifted with.

“Ra’Nes also has really good speed and his arm strength is impressive,” he added. “With those skills, he has the ability to play anywhere in the outfield. He can cover the ground really well and throw runners out from anywhere.

“Trace has an extremely high baseball IQ and he understands the nuances of the game better than most people his age. He’s got a fire in his belly so when he steps on the mound, no one is better than him. He’s a true competitor and a true leader with a very strong arm.

“All three will get to college and deepen their understanding of the game and increase their abilities,” Gordon closed. “We’re proud of them as a coaching staff to see their hard work pay off.”

Ra’Nik plans to major in engineering, Ra’Nes wants to pursue a career in business, and Ricketts said he is still undecided at this time.

Post 49 will return to regular-season play with two home games this week on Tuesday and Thursday, both starting at 7 p.m.

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Kyle Pillar is a 16-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.