For Bay High baseball player Thomas Johnstone, the quote "hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard" couldn't be more true. Thomas as spent countless extra hours on the diamond, and now, it's all paid off. The senior went from having less then a dozen at bats his junior year, to leading the team offensively from the four hole in his final season.
"Being out here when no one else is here, being the guy that's here early, being the last guy to leave," said head coach Daniel Davidson of Thomas' work ethic. "It's great for him. I'm happy to see him have this success this year."
It's success that's translated into a leadership role as a co-captain for the young Bay squad- a team that boasts just three seniors.
"It's kind of tough because everybody's young," said Thomas. "You have to take the respect instead of ask for it. A lot of the younger guys look up to me, and I feel like a coach, it's kind of weird."
The center fielder's hard work on the field translates to the classroom- where he boasts a 3.8 GPA in Bay High's AICE program, and has already completed 40 hours of college credits.
"Honestly, I don't think I was allowed to play video games or go to practice or anything until I got my homework done," said Thomas.
"It's hard to explain to them how hard it is to go to college and be successful and play baseball if you don't start it here in high school," said Coach Davidson. "If you don't put academics first, it's going to come back and bite you in the end. That's something that Thomas and his family have stressed from day one that I met them."
It's putting school first that's gotten Thomas to his ultimate goal of playing baseball at the next level, as earlier this month, Thomas inked to play ball with Berry College- and he's also received nearly $70,000 in scholarship money based on his academics.
"Being able to play college baseball is a dream come true," said Thomas. "All the work pays off. Balancing school, and keeping a high GPA is pretty tantalizing, but it can be done."
"That's all attributed to his hard work," said Coach Davidson. "If he keeps doing that for four years of college, he'll be a very successful college baseball player."
Not bad for someone who just a year ago boasted less then a dozen at bats on his stat sheet. Thomas said he wants to study business or pre-law in college, as Berry has a 95% acceptance rate into grad school.