Frederick senior Jaron Balman needed only to see a St. Vrain Valley School District rival take the fast track from Northeastern Junior College's baseball team to the Division-I ranks to understand the potential that awaited him there. A near full-ride scholarship offer helped seal the deal.

Balman, a pitcher/catcher/outfielder, signed this week to play baseball at NJC with hopes of a stint in Sterling leading to the college game's elite level. The path is the same one taken by 2011 Niwot grad Connor Messinger, who is now playing for the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks after his own trip through Sterling.

"They have a great program and sign a lot of kids from there (to four-year programs)," Balman said. "It's close to home and they gave me a great scholarship, so hopefully it works out."

Balman, who opted not to go out for wrestling this winter to get ready for baseball, said he might try to find a four-year school where he can also play football after NJC. But the FHS quarterback's main focus is baseball. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder hit .407 for the Warriors last spring, racking up 14 extra-base hits in 67 plate appearances.

Follow Josh on Twitter: @JoshLindenstein