Zach Sanford was about to begin his coaching career when he was recently hired as a graduate assistant at the University of Rio Grande (Ohio).

However, everything changed as an opportunity of a lifetime was on the table.

The Waldorf resident recently signed a contract to allow him to continue his playing career on the baseball diamond in the professional ranks.

Sanford, who played played four seasons at NCAA Division II Glenville State College in West Virginia and graduated last December, will be playing in the Pecos Professional Baseball League for the Garden City Wind, a team based in Garden City, Kan.

“I’m extremely thankful to my family, God’s blessings, the Glenville State College coaching staff and the Garden City Wind for the opportunities presented,” said Sanford, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in athletic conditioning and coaching. “I am so grateful and ready to get started.”

Last spring in his senior season for the Pioneers, the left-handed pitcher and outfielder finished with a 5-5 record on the mound while striking out 39 batters and walking only 15 in 65 2/3 innings.

Sanford noted that he still wants to pursue coaching despite playing pro and he is taking a semester off from graduate school.

“About the second week of January I got a phone call from the manager of the Garden City Wind asking if I was interested in playing ball and at first I had given up on that and was just going to coach,” he said. “Everything had fell through at first, I didn’t get any calls and it was just a blessing to be able to play the game that I love again. It was crazy how everything worked out.”

Glenville State head baseball coach Jimmy Mullins was ecstatic about Sanford playing independent ball at the pro level.

“We’re very proud that Zach has the opportunity to continue his baseball and academic careers,” said Mullins in a recent school news release. “He is an extremely talented athlete and will be able to perform very well at the professional level with his change-up abilities. Rio Grande University has a strong program with an experienced coaching staff who will serve as great mentors to Zach.”

Sanford is set to report to the Garden City Wind training camp in May and is currently working out to keep his skills sharp and body conditioned for the upcoming season.

Sanford was instrumental in growing the Glenville State baseball program during his four years. Reflecting back, the Pioneers community will always have a special place in his heart.

“Glenville was a big family environment and that is what coach Mullins instilled in everybody,” he said. “We played for one another and that is what I want to instill in my players. It was a just a great experience.”

Before entering the college ranks, Sanford played for three years at Thomas Stone and then his senior season at North Point.

As a sophomore with Stone, Sanford was an All-County second team selection as a designated hitter and as a senior made the All-County second team as an outfielder.

Twitter: @ajmason301

Twitter: @ajmason301