Ben Casparius said he has dreamed about playing for the University of North Carolina since he was in the 6th grade.
On Monday fantasy morphed into reality as Casparius, coming off an outstanding sophomore season as the top pitcher and starting shortstop for Staples High School, announced that he plans to play his college ball for the Tar Heels.
It is the second straight year the Wreckers have had a top prospect make an early verbal commitment to a major Division I program.
“I felt a very good relationship with the coaches and I know it is a special program,” Casparius said by telephone from Georgia, where he is playing with Baseball U Connecticut, a college developmental program for high school players, at the Perfect Game Tournament. “It is a really fun atmosphere and they have a lot to offer.
Casparius said his decision of North Carolina over Vanderbilt and Virginia, the two finalists in last month’s NCAA championship, was not made hastily. He visited the Chapel Hill campus for the first time last summer when he had games in the area. He attended a camp in October, returned in April before the start of the Wreckers’ season and went back again in June, when he was officially extended an offer.
“In a perfect world I wanted to get it done sooner rather than later,” Casparius said. “When I knew there was nothing that could change my view on North Carolina I knew it was a good time to make a decision. It took about a month.”
Staples coach Jack McFarland said, “It is a perfect fit. Ben is a real sports fan and athlete, and North Carolina has the whole experience. Academics, athletics, a good baseball program and college town. He is a five-tool kid who impacts a game on offense and defense.”
Casparius helped lead Staples to a 22-6 record this past season, and the runner-up position in both the FCIAC and Class LL tournaments. Casparius was 7-0 on the mound, with a .360 batting average, eight home runs and 32 RBIs.
Casparius joins centerfielder Nate Panzer, a senior who last year verballed to Maryland, as Wreckers who have committed to top college programs.
“Nate did this last summer and by signing now you don’t have to worry and can just work at the task at hand,” McFarland said.
Casparius has the tools to project to a number of different positions at the next level, including second and third base and, with a strong arm, even rightfield, one reason he has been so highly coveted.
“I will play wherever it helps me get on the field the earliest,” Casparius said.
Casparius will now pursue the next item on his checklist: a professional career. In October he will play in the Perfect Game Underclassmen All-America games.
“My next goal is to get drafted in the highest possible round,” Casparius said.