ASHEBORO — Tyler Parks says he has lots of things he needs to do regarding baseball across his final two years of high school with Southwestern Randolph.
Selecting a college destination isn’t one of them.
Parks made a verbal commitment to play for North Carolina, a choice that was solidified Friday.
“When they offered, I took it the next day,” Parks said of his goal to play for the Tar Heels. “It has been a dream of mine ever since middle school. I grew up watching Carolina play.”
Parks, a member of the Class of 2023, is primarily an infielder. He plays shortstop for Southwestern Randolph, but his high school coach, Ethan Marsh, said he envisions Parks playing as a second baseman in college.
Parks has been a starter for the Cougars since he was a freshman, though that 2020 season was abbreviated because of the pandemic.
“I still think (the interest) in him really started as a freshman,” Marsh said. “This past fall I think it really picked up with his travel ball.”
Parks, who turns 17 in September, plays travel ball for the Burlington-based Dirtbags. That has given him widespread exposure, playing in two tournaments in Florida and two in Georgia this year along with some more regional events.
He’s mostly a utility player on that team, logging time as a second baseman, third baseman and left fielder.
Parks said he likes having the recruiting part wrapped up.
“I definitely got it out of the way early and I don’t have to worry about that,” he said. “I want to focus on getting faster and stronger to be able play at the D-I level. It’s not easy to play at Carolina.”
He said improving defensively is among his goals.
North Carolina finished its first season under coach Scott Forbes in 2021 after last summer’s retirement of longtime coach Mike Fox. Parks said that coaching change didn’t impact his decision, with much of the staff remaining in place and Forbes promoted from within.
Parks also considered offers from Campbell, East Carolina and Wake Forest.
Parks batted .333 during the past high school season, which was reduced in length as most North Carolina High School Athletic Association sports were crammed into a few months in 2021. Almost half (7) of his 15 hits were doubles.
Marsh said Parks should grow into a key leadership role going into his junior season.
“He’s going to be special for us his last two years,” Marsh said. “I wish I had 15 of them (like Parks).”