A few Cartersville baseball alumni have made impressions on those coaches and are contributing to their Division I Georgia college teams, including Sam Howard, Colin Bennett, Kendall Hawkins and Connor Justus.
Georgia Southern’s Sam Howard has made the biggest impact for his team so far. The left-handed starting pitcher has three starts for the Eagles and has given up just two earned runs in 18 innings pitched. He has struck out 22 batters to just three walks. He has only allowed 13 hits and has emerged as the staff’s ace.
The junior’s biggest accomplishment this season was in the opening game against an in-state rival. Howard struck out seven in five scoreless innings of work to lead Georgia Southern to a 9-3 victory over Georgia in Athens on Feb. 15.
Howard kept Georgia without a hit through the first two innings and allowed only one walk. He is now 2-0 all-time against the Bulldogs and 3-1 against teams from the state of Georgia.
The 2011 Chicago Cubs 48th round pick went 6-7 with a 5.55 ERA in 23 games as a sophomore at GSU. He has continued to show a penchant for the strikeout as he has 131 in 126.2 innings pitched.
Like Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State has had luck with Cartersville High players.
Colin Bennett and Kendall Hawkins are each contributing for the Owls.
As a junior, Bennett is playing his first season at KSU after an impressive two-year career at Walters State Community College. Last year, Bennett hit three home runs during the regionals to help take WSCC to the Junior League World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.
He only has eight at bats to his name this season, but has four hits and three walks in those limited opportunities for an on-base percentage of .667.
He recorded three hits and a walk in KSU’s loss to Jacksonville State. Bennett scored the tying run in the eighth inning to bring the game into extra innings. Jacksonville State would end up winning in the 17th inning, but not for lack of effort from Bennett.
Hawkins, a redshirt freshman, also has contributed to the Owls in limited duty. He has allowed one earned run in 3.1 innings this season.
KSU coach Mike Sansing threw Hawkins into the fire in a Feb. 25 game against Georgia Tech. Hawkins recorded two outs in the eighth inning before KSU scored two runs in the ninth to beat Georgia Tech by a score of 5-3.
Hawkins’ former teammate, Connor Justus, did not play that day for the Yellow Jackets. However, Justus has steadily earned more playing time and has produced as of late.
The freshman middle infielder has two hits in eight at bats and has already walked six time for an on-base percentage of .571, tops on the team.
On Sunday, Justus went 1-for-2 against Bowling Green with two walks, an RBI single and a run scored. Justus’ performance contributed to an 8-5 victory.