OOLTEWAH, Tenn. (WRCB) -- One year after celebrating a trio of players signing college scholarship papers, Ooltewah baseball celebrated three more Wednesday.
Jordan McClain, Kevin Dupree and Drew Williams finalized their college decisions by signing and national letters of intent on the first official day of the NCAA's early signing period for most major sports outside of football.
McClain's college choice stood out based on name alone: The senior pitcher is heading to Yale University, where he plans to pursue a degree in economics.
"It was definitely harder to get admitted to Yale than it was get the scholarship offer," laughed McClain, who also entertained interest from Dartmouth and Ole Miss, among others. "After I got the offer I had a nervous few months biting my nails waiting to see if I'd get in.
"But they're obviously top of the list as far as Ivy League schools, and the coaches were all just so talkative and nice. I just felt an instant connection when I got up there."
Dupree, another star pitcher for the Owls, signed with Middle Tennessee State after de-committing from Tennessee earlier this year.
"Since I was three all I've wanted to do is play baseball. This is the day we've all been working our butts off for," said a smiling Dupree. "I originally committed to Tennessee, but when I visited MTSU I just felt this instant connection with Coach (Jim) McGuire. It was almost like a father-son bond.
"I just knew that was the place for me."
Williams will stay closer to home after signing with perennial-power Lee University. The Flames will soon make the move up to the Division 2 ranks after a dominating recent run in the NAIA, and Williams is looking the forward to the challenge.
"There's just a ton of things I loved about Lee. I'm going to be a student first, and it was a great fit academically and spiritually, so I'll have a great four years regardless of baseball," Williams said. "But I love the game and I'm competitive for the game, and they're all like that, too. They are competitive on the national stage every year, and I'm excited to be a part of that."
Ooltewah softball star Kelsey Chernak also signed Wednesday, inking papers for East Tennessee State. She'll join Marion County's Brooke Baxter, whom she played select ball with locally, on the Lady Bucs' roster.
"I've been wanting to play softball in college ever since I could remember, so that it's actually happening I couldn't be more excited," Chernak said. "When I visited ETSU I just loved everything about it. The coaches were great, and I just felt the most comfortable there."
In North Georgia, Heritage softball also celebrated a trio of signees, including two players going to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Savannah Goldsmith and Jesslyn Stockard both chose to play for the Lady Mocs, while teammate Kristin West is heading to Tennessee Tech.
Dade County basketball star Ansley Chilton also signed with UTC.
Baylor's powerful swimming program had five standouts sign scholarship papers Wednesday, including Olympic Trials' participant Kristen Vredeveld (Cal).
Below is a list of local prep athletes who signed scholarship papers Wednesday, or plan to in the coming days. If you know a local player not on the list, please email Keith Cawley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily Boyd (Northwest Whitfield) -- Ole Miss
Kelsey Chernak (Ooltewah) -- East Tennessee State
Savannah Goldsmith (Heritage) -- Chattanooga
Jesslyn Stockard (Heritage) -- Chattanooga
Kristin West (Heritage) -- Tennessee Tech
Ericka Bynum (Ringgold) -- Shorter
Kalei Kimbrell (Gordon Lee) -- Shorter
Tori Willingham (Chattooga) -- Shorter
Allie Blackwood (Dalton) - Austin Peay
Brooke Baxter (Marion County) -- East Tennessee State
Sidney Hooper (Walker Valley) -- Austin Peay
Reggie Upshaw (Baylor) -- Middle Tennessee State
Mariah Massengill (Silverdale) -- Eastern Kentucky
Elizabeth Masengil (McMinn Central) - UT-Martin
Ansley Chilton (Dade County) -- Chattanooga
D.J. Bowles (former Cleveland star, now in FL) -- Wichita State
Terrance O'Donahue (former McCallie star, now in GA) -- College of Charleston
Kevin Dupree (Ooltewah) -- Middle Tennessee State
Jordan McClain (Ooltewah) -- Yale University
Drew Williams (Ooltewah) -- Lee University
Haley Davidson (Signal Mountain) -- Tennessee Tech
Lydia Triplett (Polk County) -- Tennessee Tech
Kristen Vredeveld (Baylor) -- California-Berkley
Kimberly John-Williams (Baylor) -- Georgia
Mikaya Reynolds (Baylor) -- Marshall
Emma Lochmeier (Baylor) -- Air Force
Hannah Peiffer (Baylor) -- Queens