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June 8, 2013

Huntingdon’s Odom drafted by Atlanta Braves

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Huntingdon catcher Joseph Odom remembers watching the Atlanta Braves as a kid.

The thought of playing professional baseball was more than just a dream for Odom, it became a goal. On Saturday, Odom moved one step closer to that goal when he was drafted by the Braves in the 13th round of the MLB Draft.

"I used to think Javy Lopez had the best job in the world," Odom said of the former Braves catcher. "That's what I wanted to do. It's still what I want to do. I feel blessed. It's exciting to be able to pursue your dream.

"When you're a kid, people always ask you what you're going to be when you grow up. My answer was always that I'm going to be a professional baseball player. Most people don't take you seriously and tell you that's a one-in-a-million chance. I've had to work hard for everything I've accomplished, but I've always believed I could do it."

Odom, a native of Vestavia Hills, Ala., is Huntingdon's first draft pick since pitcher James Moody was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1989. As the 403rd overall pick, Odom is the highest draft pick in Huntingdon history.

"He's worked hard for this opportunity and we're all proud of him," Huntingdon head coach D.J. Conville said. "He's a guy that had a lot of potential when he came here and he worked hard to become the player he is. You look at the season he had this year and that is a result of dedication and hard work."

Odom helped lead Huntingdon to a 32-11 record this past season, the Hawks' first NCAA Regional and the program's first two NCAA Regional victories. Odom earned second-team All-American honors and first-team All-South Region recognition as he led Division III with 14 home runs and was among the national leaders with 60 RBIs and a .706 slugging percentage.

He finished with a .369 batting average, 45 runs and 10 doubles. In three seasons with the Hawks, Odom has 28 home runs, 145 RBIs and 110 runs on 160 hits.

As a junior, Odom has the option of signing with the Braves organization or returning for his final season at Huntingdon. It's a decision he said he will make in the coming days. For now, he just wants to enjoy the moment.

"It's been a stressful couple of days. But getting that phone call today, it was pretty awesome," Odom said. "I thank Huntingdon College for so many opportunities. I don't know where I would be without Huntingdon. It's been a blessing to be part of this program, play for these coaches and play with the teammates I've had. I thank my coaches and teammates for believing in me and pushing me and I want to make them proud."