OG shortstop to play with East Central in Okla.

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Orange Grove Journal

For one 2007 graduate of Orange Grove High School, his time spent on the baseball diamond will continue.

Paul Duarte, a shortstop on the Bulldog Baseball team signed a national letter of intent June 9 to play for East Central University in Ada, Okla.

Paul was named District 30-3A Senior of the Year and First Team All-District Shortstop.

Paul was also quarterback this year for the Bulldog varsity football team.

Paul was the only Orange Grove player this year to sign with a university for baseball.

East Central University is a Division II University and a member of the Lone Star Conference.

Paul said baseball is something he's always enjoyed playing, and both his parents and coaches have always been supportive.

"My coaches and my dad, they've been there helping me out throughout the year," he said.

Paul Duarte Sr. said he is really happy for his son's achievement.

"He really deserves it. He's worked hard for it since the beginning and I know he'll do well up there," the elder Duarte said.

The college will be a new experience for Paul, although as a small town, Ada has much in common with Orange Grove, his dad said.

"I've never been there before, but I'm going into this with an open mind. I'm going to focus on classes and baseball, and try my hardest," Paul said.

His scholarship will pay for 80 percent of his college, and Paul said he's looking forward to his major in business management.

As for his future team, Paul said ECU Coach Mike Hunt was a nice guy who expects a lot from the young shortstop.

The coach told him up front that he had a good chance of starting this year, which was a major factor in his decision to sign with ECU.

And as for life after college, Paul doesn't discount an attempt at the big leagues.

"I want to go as far as I can. After four years of baseball, I want to keep on going, wherever it leads me," Paul said.