LEONARD — Playing baseball has always had a special place in the life of Michael Shulze. Now, he’ll have a chance to keep his career going at the next level.

In front of a crowd of students, friends and family, the senior catcher and infielder signed to play at Richland College in Dallas on Wednesday. It was a special moment for Shulze, who was attracted by the many opportunities that the school provide.

“The way they teach their hitters was attractive to me,” Shulze said. “Plus, they’re giving me an opportunity to play two positions which is huge for me.”

Shulze, who is hitting .452 so far this spring with a .580 on-base percentage, also will don the green and purple of the school’s mascot, the Thunderducks.

“That’s pretty cool,” he said on the school’s unique mascot. “I’ll always be able to say I was a Thunderduck at one point in my life.”

Shulze’s versatility has made a valuable piece for the Tigers over the last four seasons. However, his head coach says there is one thing that’s helped him stand out among the rest.

“Nobody is equal as far as his work ethic,” head coach Mike Virden said. “Since football season was over and I opened up the batting cages in December, he’s been there every day. I literally have to run him out of there.”

Shulze becomes the eleventh student-athlete from Leonard to sign and continue their playing career at the next level this year, one of the most successful years in school history. He credits the culture and the attitude surrounding athletics that’s helped him get to this position.

That was everything for me,” Shulze said. “The athletic development here at Leonard is second to none. They did do a great job of developing both athletically and personally. We have a strong group of teachers and coaches that are always pushing us.”

Shulze and the Tigers still have some season left as they get set to take on Gunter in the bi-district round of the playoffs this weekend. But as he prepares to head to college after the season, Virden is confident that Shulze will be successful.

“He’s a cage rat working on stuff and it’s paid off for him,” Virden said. “I would just tell him to just keep grinding and do what you do. Be confident in your abilities and just go play.”