By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — One more Pirate is headed off to college.
Mark Rooney signed his letter of intent Thursday at Port Charlotte High School to play baseball for Ave Maria University.
“It’s always been that dream,” Rooney said. “It’s become a reality, and that’s cool.”
Rooney played in 46 career games for the Pirates, most of which were starts behind the plate. In 2016, he had 10 hits with 4 RBI.
“Mark came in here and was a Pirate early,” Port Charlotte athletic director Bob Bruglio said. “He’s just worked really hard. He was always at a camp or a lesson. To see a kid like that — he’s not your ideal 6-foot-3 catcher — for it to pay for him is always nice.”
A former coach of Rooney’s helped him get in touch with the staff from Ave Maria. The Gyrenes play in the NAIA, and feature a handful of local players on the baseball team.
Ave Maria is also located about an hour and a half away from Port Charlotte, a perk which appealed to Rooney.
“It’s four years, and there’s really no distractions there,” Rooney said. “It’s all baseball and school, and that’s what I love about it.”