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Turbeville signs with Arkansas Tech

by Jason Avery | June 17, 2021 at 9:00 p.m.

Sometimes all it takes is one opportunity to be seized upon and the rest is history.

For Leighton Turbeville, that chance came on April 13.

A former standout at El Dorado playing at Carl Albert State, Turbeville had a monster game against Eastern Oklahoma State, who went 47-7 and reached the NJCAA Division I South Central District Championship.

On that day, Turbeville hit for the cycle while going 5-for-5 with six RBIs in a 28-15 win.

From then on, Turbeville enjoyed a solid remainder of the season, picking up at least one hit in 12 of the final 17 games he played in, including five multi-hit games.

After hitting .333 with two home runs and 27 RBIs in 34 games this season, Turbeville is headed to Arkansas Tech, who won the Great American Conference regular-season title and went to the regional tournament.

“I ended up getting an offer from Arkansas Tech soon after the season ended,” Turbeville said. “I went up on a visit, and I really like their coach, their facilities. Their program seems to be improving. It’s only getting better. I think it’s a good deal. I think it’s a good place to go.”

Turbeville thought the fit was a good one.

“It makes the most sense for me,” he said, adding that Arkansas Tech was the lone visit he took. “I don’t think any of the other programs honestly compare to theirs right now. Their facilities are the best in the conference.”

Prior to hitting for the cycle, Turbeville played sporadically, registering only one multi-hit game to that point.

“At the beginning of the year, I was kind of slow to come back out of the COVID break,” Turbeville said. “I kind of sat around during COVID and didn’t do as much as I should have, so I kind of had to dig myself out of a hole. I didn’t play a whole lot at the beginning of the year.

“I sat on the bench, but around halfway through the year, I started getting put in the lineup here and there. When I did get put in, I made it count. I hit the ball really well. It started slow, but ended on a good note. I got my feel for the game back after being away from it for so long with COVID.”

Turbeville said he was also going to switch majors and focus on a business degree rather than focus on going into nursing, which was his first choice.

“I think I’m going to switch,” Turbeville said. “I think I’m going to pursue a business degree now mainly because the Murphy Promise lasts only four years, so those four years, I want to make them count and get a degree. I don’t want to sit around and take whatever classes. If I wanted to pursue nursing, I would have to wait until after baseball to get into nursing school.

“It wouldn’t matter if I had done all of the prerequisites or not. You can’t do clinicals and play baseball. That’s the issue. I love nursing, but I have an opportunity to play ball somewhere right now. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll decide to go back and be a nurse. I don’t know. It just is whatever it will be.

“You can’t do nursing and baseball, not in college with practice all the time every day. Once you get into nursing school, there’s a few classes that you take and then it’s pretty much clinicals, which is like having a job, and college sports is a job. They’re both full time. You have to do one or the other.”

Turbeville said the choice to switch was a tough one.

“It’s a hard decision,” he said. “You’ve got to think that baseball is only going to last for only so long. The chances of getting paid to play the game are super slim for anyone, so I don’t ever depend on that.

“Obviously, a job in the future is very important. You can’t depend on just the game. Any time you’re deciding on between school and a sport, it’s definitely a very weighted decision. It’s very difficult to make. I’ve put in too much time and gotten too far to just hang it up now when I have such a great opportunity right in front of me.”

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