If the Cedar Creek High School baseball team scores even a couple of runs each game next spring, the Pirates are going to be very tough to beat. That’s because coach Ryan Flannery’s squad is loaded with pitching talent. Junior David Hagaman, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound right-hander, is the latest to announce his college commitment, as he said recently that he chose West Virginia University. He’ll be able to officially sign a National Letter of Intent during his senior year of 2020-2021.

Hagaman joins current seniors Luke Vaks and Steven Kaenzig, who have committed to Old Dominion and Hofstra, respectively.

“We’re excited. We knew he was getting recruited big-time and for him to pick a school and settle in on it probably feels good for him. That will relieve some of the pressure he probably feels pitching in front of all those scouts (at showcase events),” Flannery said. “It’s well deserved. He works his tail off and we’re happy for him. When we got him as a freshman you could tell there was potential. He started at shortstop for us and batted in the No. 3 hole as a freshman, so we knew he was going to be special. We knew we’d see some growing pains when he was younger, but last spring he really came into his own and we expect two more years of him being one of the top guys in our program.”

The recruiting process can be difficult for high-level high school athletes, and Hagaman went through it for more than a year, as — particularly with baseball — colleges are recruiting younger athletes more than ever. Hagaman played for several travel teams, including the South Jersey Sand Sharks, and spent the past few summers attending showcase events hosted by companies such as Perfect Game and Prep Baseball Report. Hagaman said he enjoyed the process and was confident he would get an offer from a high level NCAA Division I program. West Virginia plays in the Big XII Conference, one of the toughest baseball conferences in the nation.

“My second option was Old Dominion, obviously with Luke it was ideal for them to get me, too, so that was hard to tell them that I was going to West Virginia. I talked to Notre Dame a little bit, and North Carolina, Virginia Tech and a couple other ACC schools and a few smaller Division I schools. It is pretty surprising, but I do feel like I’ve put in a lot of work. I’ve talked to a couple guys who went to ACC schools and they said this is when it all starts to line up, around your junior year. I was pretty confident in myself, and when it came about I was pretty happy,” Hagaman said. “It’s definitely awesome and I’ve had a great time throughout the whole process. I’ve talked to a lot of great guys and made a lot of good relationships with everyone. It was very humbling when they contacted me.”

Hagaman and Cedar Creek had a breakout year last spring, as the Pirates advanced all the way to the South Jersey Group II championship game before falling to West Deptford. The Pirates also challenged teams like Mainland Regional, Absegami and Ocean City in the Cape-Atlantic League National Conference, and should be a contender again in 2020 after having lost just a handful of seniors. Hagaman got a taste of varsity pitching as a freshman, but hurled only eight innings. He was relied on much more this past spring as a sophomore, and in 33 innings he allowed just 15 earned runs while striking out 48 batters. According to perfectgame.org, Hagaman’s fastball now reaches 90 miles-per-hour, a 12-miles-per-hour increase from his freshman year.

“I feel like I could have done better. My freshman year I only had a couple of starts, and in my first varsity start, against St. Joe’s, they put up about four runs on me. I wasn’t as big a factor as I wanted to be (as a freshman). Last year, with coming up short in the playoffs, that’s pushed me to do better. I feel like I’ve done decent so far, but I definitely want to get better,” Hagaman said. “We have three guys throwing 90-plus now and two other guys who are in the mid-80s, so we definitely have the pitching, we just have to hit. We’re not looking for anything less than a state championship. I’ve been incorporating a slider and that’s something I used in the Futures Game to get a lot of outs. It’s more of a chase pitch when I’m up in the count. That’s something I’ve been working on a lot this summer.”

Hagaman, son of Christine and Edward Hagaman of Egg Harbor City, said West Virginia just felt like the right place for him to spend his college years.

“There wasn’t one thing about West Virginia. When I got there, it just felt like home. I had a great connection with everyone there, I love the campus, it’s a beautiful area. I showed up on campus and it felt like home,” he said. “It’s been a long road, we’ve been doing (this process) for about a year and a half now, so I feel like there’s a weight off my shoulders. My parents were a huge factor. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to go everywhere I did and wouldn’t be where I am right now. Ever since I was really young my dad has been working with me. They’ve been by my side every single game, every single tournament, and I definitely appreciate that.”

Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays