Central-Webster baseball

FILE PHOTO: Hopkins County Central's Jackson Porter lays a bunt down against Webster County. The Storm won the contest 5-2. Evan Dennison, The Messenger

Hopkins County Central’s Jackson Porter may have finished his high school athletic career with the conclusion of the 2017 season, but his baseball career will continue, as he signed his national letter of intent to join the team at the University of Pikeville.

“Mostly it’s just relief,” Porter said. “Just finally figured out where I’m going to go next year, don’t have to worry about it anymore. Just got it over with, and I’m excited to go down there and play and meet new people and hopefully make a big impact.”

Porter made things official shortly before the start of the Seventh District Baseball Tournament back in May.

Although Porter was a three-sport star who excelled for the Storm in football (19 receptions, 281 yards, three touchdownsm as a senior) and basketball (11.3 points per game), baseball was the sport he chose to move on to the next level with.

“I’ve played baseball the longest and I’ve grown to like it the most,” Porter said. “I think I can excel at baseball at the next level.”

As a senior, Porter hit .344 for the Storm with 24 runs scored and 21 RBIs, while also racking up 16 stolen bases. A four-year starter for the baseball team, Porter has seen time all over the field, playing in the middle of the infi eld as a freshman before being moved to the out-field, while also getting some reps on the mound during his first three years.

“He’s been a big part of it,” Central coach Chad Crick said. “He’s been an everyday starter.”

Although Pikeville wasn’t originally on Porter’s shortlist of schools due to its long distance (331 miles) from Hopkins County, he found himself swayed by a fellow Central alum, Pikeville assistant coach Ethan Utley.

“He contacted me in the middle ofthe season, asked me if I wanted to play

college baseball,” Porter said. “I’d been looking around, but I hadn’t really looked at Pikeville because it was kind of far away, but we talked it over, took a visit down there, I really liked the campus and I liked the coaches and all the facilities and that’s pretty much what brought me there.”

The Pikeville Bears are coming off a 27-24 season in 2017 where they advanced past the MidSouth Conference Opening Round before getting eliminated by Campbellsville in the next round of games.

Porter said the coaches told him he’ll likely be used mostly as a pinch runner and utility fielder in his freshman year, but with his experience in both the infield and outfield at Central he’s ready to play wherever he’s needed.

“I can play in the outfield, I can play third base, second base, shortstop, anywhere they need me,” Porter said. “They said they’d put me and use me anywhere they could.”

The son of former Central volleyball coach John Porter, Jackson said he intends to pursue an education degree at Pikeville with the hopes of becoming a high school teacher and, ideally, a coach.

“All the teachers I’ve had and all the coaches I’ve had seem like they really enjoy what they do, and I feel like I could help a lot of kids,” Porter said. “I know where they come from, being a student-athlete in high school, and I bet I could understand how they feel, maybe help them like my coaches helped me.”

Along with Porter, the Storm lose four starters to graduation this year, with the other three being Austin James, Skyler Hibbs and Caleb Wagoner, but Porter said he expects the underclassmen to step up for the team next season.

“They’ve got a bunch of eighth graders and freshmen and sophomores coming up that look promising,” Porter said. “They’re ready to put in the hard work it looks like, and playing with them, I know that they’ll have success later on in the years.”

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