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Cunningham to play baseball, football at Franklin College

Posted Wednesday, August 5, 2009, at 9:30 AM

2009 Linton-Stockton High School graduate Keith Cunningham will now be playing baseball and football at Franklin College. (By B.J. Hargis/Greene County Daily World).
Keith Cunningham was a multi-sport athlete at Linton-Stockton High School and that will continue at Franklin College.

Cunningham, who graduated from Linton-Stockton in May, will play football and baseball at the four-year school located approximately 30 minutes south of Indianapolis

"I am very glad to have this opportunity," said Cunningham, the son of Brad Cunningham and Tina Snow. "Playing football and baseball have both been really important to me.

"Since about the second grade, they have both been a big part of my life."

Cunningham, who was starting quarterback on Linton's 13-1 football team that advanced to the Class A semistate title game last year, said he was pleased that he did not have to choose between his two favorite sports.

"It would have been hard to pick just one," said Cunningham, a starting shortstop on the Miner baseball team. "I love playing both of them and it would have been very difficult to choose just one."

Franklin College baseball coach Lance Marshall said he was pleased to have Cunningham and Bloomfield hurler Cody Pearson committed to playing for the Grizzlies.

Pearson hit eight home runs this season and finished with 21 home runs for his career, the most ever by a Cardinal player. He also won 5 of 6 decisions in 2009 and set another school record with 20 strikeouts against White River Valley.

"Keith and Cody are both good student-athletes," said Marshall, who has been head baseball coach at the NCAA Division III school since 1997 and also is the college's coordinator of athletic recruitment. "I am very pleased to have both of them coming to Franklin College.

"Cody and Keith both are talented baseball players. They should be able to contribute to our program and fit in here very well."

Cunningham, who also played defensive back for the Miner football team, said he will be roommates with Pearson.

"Cody and I have known each other for a long time," said Cunningham. "He used to go to Linton until the third or fourth grade, when he moved to Bloomfield.

"We played baseball together every year. We know each other pretty well."

Cunningham and the Miners defeated Pearson and the Cardinals 13-10 in extra innings in the baseball sectional semifinals in May.

"That was a really high-scoring game," said Cunningham, who helped the Miners win the Class A football sectional as a junior and senior and the regional title in 2008. "They were able to bounce back and tie the game in the bottom of the seventh.

"I felt bad for Cody that they got that close and then lost so abruptly."

The 5-9, 145-pound Cunningham, who had a 3.1 GPA in high school, earned honors for his play as a junior by Gridiron Digest, which triggered an idea in his head.

"I figured if I worked really hard I might be able to play at the next level," said Cunningham, who said his size allows him to hide behind linemen and pop out of nowhere as he ran the option. "I went to one of Franklin's games in the Elite Eight Division III playoffs.

"I figured I would give it a try."

Cunningham, who said he will be studying to become an athletic trainer, said he will be moving in to Franklin at the end of next week. Classes start in early September. The Grizzlies, a member of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference who finished 11-2 a year ago and 7-0 in the HCAC, will open the season Sept. 5 at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio.

"I plan on competing at the quarterback spot," said Cunningham, who added that he is looking forward to being away from home for the first time, but glad that Franklin College is close enough to drive in less than two hours when he eventually starts to get homesick. "I would like to thank all of my coaches, who helped pushing me to get better.

"I know I will have to study a lot more to keep my grades up. I am also going to be competing against bigger and faster guys. I am going to have to pick up my game. I am looking forward to the challenge."

B.J. Hargis is the sports editor of the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at hargisbj@yahoo.com.

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