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Liddell, Jones sign with Stillman College

Mar. 6—Two Meridian Wildcats will be continuing their baseball careers at the next level after seniors Fred Liddell Jr. and Breland Jones signed letters of intent Wednesday, March 6, to play at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Liddell said he was excited to continue both his baseball and academic careers at Stillman. After visiting the campus, he said, it felt like home.

"I'm going to Stillman College because I love Stillman. It's a good environment, I love the place and it's me," he said.

Looking back on his time at Meridian High School, Liddell said he wanted to thank his coaches, teammates and friends for sticking with him and pushing him to be the best he can be. Their support stayed with him even when he made mistakes, he said.

"Even though I messed up some times, they've still got my back," he said.

Liddell's work ethic on the field is mirrored in the classroom, MHS Principal Angela McQuarley said. When extra effort is needed, she said, Liddell is there to get to work.

"I wish you much success on what you do," she said. "Remember, you are an excellent student. Excellence is in you."

Ron Turner, who serves on the Meridian Public School District Board of Trustees, said Liddell also excels outside of the school district and is very active in the church where they are both members. Although young, he said Liddell is highly dedicated to his church and his faith and is frequently serving as an usher or serving in another capacity where it's needed.

"Stillman College is about to go to another level," he said. "Not because they are a college that's great. They are, but they are getting Fred Liddell Jr."

Jones said he wanted to thank his parents, family and coaches for encouraging him and pushing him to become a better athlete over his years of playing baseball. He also thanked the Stillman College coaches for recruiting him and giving him an opportunity to continue to play at the next level.

"Therefore I would like to say I will be signing my next four years to Stillman to continue my baseball and my academic career," he said.

McQuarley encouraged Jones to keep his faith strong and work hard as he moves beyond high school. If he does that, she said, everything else will fall into place.

"Focus, get your plan, and you will do well," she said.

MPSD Athletic Director Cheyenne Trussell encouraged both athletes to work hard on their academic degrees while at Stillman. Baseball opened the door for them now, he said, but academics will carry them through the rest of their lives.

"The most important thing you can do, when you leave that institution, make sure you have that degree," he said. "Athletics is only going to take you so far, and academics is what's going to keep you going."

MHS Baseball Coach Michael Lindsey said it's an honor as a coach to have players chosen to continue their athletic careers in college, but the signings are often bittersweet. Liddell and Jones played key roles on the team that will be hard to fill, he said.

Jones, Lindsey said, was the voice of the team and was often the one to bring players' ideas or requests to the coaching staff. Liddell, he said, works hard each and every day. That work ethic and the leadership he brings to the team will be sorely missed.

"I'm ready to see you at that next level, but we're going to miss you here," he said.

Contact Thomas Howard at thoward@themeridianstar.com