NEW ORLEANS - When Morgan Barger left the halls of Indian Valley High School in 2010, he would have never dreamed that he would be playing his senior year in college in the Big Easy.
Barger is an outfielder for NCAA Division I New Orleans University.
"I always wanted to play down south, but I wasn't sure it would happen after junior college," Barger explained.
He was a three time All Star in the Mifflin County Babe Ruth League (2005-07). Barger was co-MVP of the league as a 15-year-old and also won the league's batting title. That same year (2007), he helped Mifflin County win the Babe Ruth 15-year-old state championship.
Next, he advanced to play for the Mifflin County American Legion team. In his senior year in high school, he helped lead the Warriors to the District 6 Class AAA title, which turned out to be the last baseball district title for the school.
Barger then took his talents to Cecil Community College in Maryland. In his freshman year, he played a key role in helping his school to the Junior College World Series in Enid, Okla.
"It was the best experience of my life (playing in the World Series)," Barger noted. "Some of those players are now in the pros."
The outfielder's next stop was playing for the Privateers.
"It was a big jump," Barger said. "When I saw a 103 mph fastball, I got a different opinion of what an elite athlete is at this level."
Not every Division I school is located in a metro area. Take for example, New Orleans, where there is the NBA (the Pelicans), the NFL (the Saints) and the French Quarter.
"This has been a great experience," Barger said. "Who wouldn't want to play in New Orleans? We go to class and then to practice during the day and at night there is always something to do. This is somewhat of a different experience than living in a rural area."
Last year as a junior, Barger played in 41 games and started 39. He hit .223, going 31-for-139. He scored 10 runs with five doubles and one home run and drove in nine runs. As an outfielder, he only committed one error in 66 chances. The Privateers were 7-44 last spring.
This year he has played in 13 games. He has two hits in 15 at bats.
Back at the helm of the New Orleans program is Ron Maestri, who guided New Orleans before from 1972-1985 and had a 518-247-1 record. In his first run as the manager of the team, he guided the Privateers to a berth in the College World Series (Division II) in 1974. New Orleans was the first college in Louisiana to reach any division in a College World Series.
"Morgan is a great kid," Maestri said. "He's done well in school. He's very personable and is a great teammate. He has shown great power. We are glad he is here."
As Barger's senior year rolls on, he looked back at his career.
"I always dreamed of playing baseball in the South. This has been a dream come true and I'm thankful for all the people who have helped me along the way."
Notes: New Orleans has a new stadium on campus and it's named after the manager, Ron Maestri. ... New Orleans is a member of the Southland Conference. ... Last year the Privateers played Arkansas, LSU, Tulane, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Southern Mississippi, Houston and Baylor in non-league games. ... Bruce Peddie was Barger's first manager in 2013 and Peddie also was first to manage Matt Wright, a former pro and another product of the Mifflin County Babe Ruth League, at Shippensburg University. ... There is a memorial on the campus to the people of New Orleans, who suffered during Hurricane Katrina. ... The school is located on the banks of Lake Ponchartrain.