By Kim West
Gregory Lambert took another step toward his childhood dream of playing professional baseball, signing on Nov. 19 a national letter of intent to play third base for the Southern Illinois Salukis.
He is part of a 14-member signing class for the Salukis, which play in the Missouri Valley Conference. SIU will lose 14 seniors after its 2014 campaign.
“Greg was one of the better hitters we saw last year,” said Southern Illinois baseball coach Ken Henderson, whose team went 25-33 overall and 6-15 in conference play last spring. “He had an outstanding summer with the Nashville Knights, one of the more successful teams in the country.
“He is an athletic infielder with all the tools needed to play at this level.”
Lambert, rated as the top third baseman in the state and No. 24 overall prospect by Perfect Game, hit .412 with 12 doubles, six triples and 12 stolen bases in 136 at-bats while playing on the Knights’ summer league team.
The senior infielder/pitcher, who is listed at 6-foot, 185 pounds, is an Athens native and grew up playing on the youth diamonds at the Sportsplex.
Lambert, who is known as Greg to his friends and teammates, began his prep career at 5A Athens High and 1A Athens Bible before settling in at 3A Madison Academy as a sophomore.
He became a part of the 2014 signing class at SIU after a junior season in which the Alabama Sports Writers Association named his first-team All-State in 3A.
Lambert batted .431 with four home runs, 47 RBIs and nine stolen bases in 137 plate appearances. He led Madison Academy in total hits (59), runs scored (50), extra-base hits (20), total bases (88).
“Greg has had some outstanding games while at Madison Academy,” said MA baseball coach Mike Good. “Last year, his two home-run performance against Madison County High School early in the season sparked the beginning of an outstanding junior year.”
He also compiled a 5-1 pitching record as a starting righthander, with a 2.65 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings.
“On the mound, he steadily improved over the course of the 2013 season and solidified himself as our No. 1 starting pitcher after a six-inning shutout performance against Heritage Christian (Ind.) during spring break,” Good said. “He had two outstanding pitching performances in AHSAA playoff games versus Deshler and Mars Hill Bible.”
Madison Academy has made three trips to the 3A championship game in the past four seasons and won the state title in 2009.
MA hosts Ardmore lefty Cody Reed, a Vanderbilt signee, on March 7 in an enticing matchup of two playoff teams with Division I-bound aces.
Lambert is the son of Greg Lambert of Madison and Felicia Lambert of Athens. His grandparents are Dr. Charles and Patricia Lambert of Athens, Brenda and Cliff McGaha of Huntsville and Ken and Beverly Wilson of Athens.