Cutler’s journey lands him Division I opportunity

Published 3:53 pm Friday, February 2, 2018

CHOCOWINITY — It’s always a special moment when an athlete signs to compete at the collegiate level. It’s a little bit more meaningful when the journey there was as rocky as it was for Southside senior Brantley Cutler.

As a sophomore at Northside, Cutler’s sophomore season on the junior-varsity roster was cut short due to a back injury. It threatened his baseball career. Cutler battled back to become arguably the best offensive player in the 1-A Coastal Plains Conference last season.

On Friday morning, Cutler signed to continue his career at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Cutler said. “To come back from what I’ve come back from, it’s just awesome. All the hard work I’ve put in like stretching and hitting the tee in the garage late at night. I’ve been practicing day in and day out to finally achieve what I’ve wanted to my whole life.”

Brantley Cutler trots to first base after drawing a walk last season.

There was a while where Cutler couldn’t so much as swing a bat. He made up for all the lost time in 2016 by thriving in 2017. Cutler was named Southside’s offensive player of the year and to the CPC all-conference team. He sported a .444 batting average and struck out only six times in 91 plate appearances.

“He missed most of his high school season (in 2016), missed Dirtbags (his travel team) and Legion ball,” recalled his father, Kevin Cutler. “He couldn’t start throwing a ball or swinging a bat until December of that year.

“Now, to sign with a small Division I school, it’s so good. We give God the credit. I’m so thankful. This is a dream. I was his T-ball coach.”

Overcoming adversity to succeed the way he did is a testament to Cutler’s work ethic. It’s an attribute that proved desirable to college coaches. That was especially true of a rebuilding program like Marlyand-Eastern Shore.

“Coming in with that work ethic goes a long way. He had to sit out a year and worked hard to get back from that injury,” Southside coach Kevin McRoy said. “He put in a lot of hard work. You know that, going into college baseball, you’re going to have to continue to put in that hard work. That’s something he’s going to do.”

Cutler added that the family-like feeling he got from the team helped make his decision easier. The school was also the best fit for his classroom aspirations of becoming an engineer.

Before embarking on his NCAA baseball journey, Cutler sets his sights on his senior season. McRoy is excited for what the Seahawks are capable of this spring.

“I have a large group of seniors returning. They’ve been around and have a lot of experience,” McRoy said. “I’m expecting good leadership. They’re not going to back down. They know what it takes to be successful.”

Cutler also expressed his appreciation for all his coaches, family, teammates, Lance Martin, Wayne Turnage, Kevin Youngs, McRoy, Stanley Dixon and God.