Following in the footsteps of former Purple Hurricanes like Cody Nix and Nathan Gravely, Baxter, a senior, has signed a letter of intent to join the Eagles baseball program next season.
Baxter spoke Friday of the benefits of playing for a program like Cartersville, which was named the Georgia Dugout Club’s Program of the Decade last year.
“It’s definitely got me, like, exposure. Playing for Cartersville, it really opens eyes, just the way this program’s ran,” he said. “I think playing for Cartersville really helped me get into Carson-Newman, just by the people that’s played here — ‘cause there’s some Cartersville players that played at Carson-Newman. [They had] good words about me.”
Canes coach Stuart Chester believes Baxter will continue building a pipeline laid several years by players like Gravely and Nix, who graduated approximately seven and two years ago.
“They laid the [groundwork] for people to come, and I’m sure Jacob he’ll carry on the same tradition … “ Chester said. “I think he’ll do great.”
Baxter, a second baseman, appreciates what Carson-Newman has to offer as a baseball program and as a Christian university.
“I went down there and I talked to [coach Tom Griffin], and he seems like a really good guy and it seems like a really good program. When I went down there, I felt at home. It just felt right. It’s a Christian school, so I just feel like I would get a lot of better spiritually and baseball-wise,” he said.
Playing college baseball has been Baxter’s “dream ever since I started playing … middle school ball,” he said. He will play middle infield — shortstop or second base — for the Eagles, but Chester said Baxter has the potential to also suit up at third base or in the outfield.
“He’s very versatile, and I think that’ll help once he gets to Carson-Newman,” the Cartersville skipper said. “He’s got a lot of talent; [he’s] got good hands, good arm; and his work ethic is second to none. He’ll definitely excel at the next level.”
“It’ll be a lot more fast-paced, but I just gotta work hard every day, just keep trying,” Baxter said regarding his expectations for life at the next level.
After another season where the Canes reached the Elite Eight in the Georgia High School Association state baseball playoffs, Chester noted players like Baxter make it possible by filling an important role with the team.
“Our program is successful because of Jacob Baxters. He works hard. He fits in where he needs to fit in. He’s a team player. His character and his class are second to none. He played an important role in the last four years coming through this program, and Cartersville baseball’s better because of Jacob Baxter,” Chester said. “The days ahead are [going to be] a lot better [for him].”
Baxter, who had a two-run single last month during senior night, joins a Carson-Newman team coming off of a 28-26 season. The Eagles are an NCAA Division II program and play in the South Atlantic Conference.