Sterlington senior Jarrett McDonald, who earned All-State honors while helping the Panthers to their first state baseball championship last season, has revealed his plans to sign with LSU Eunice.
Sterlington High senior Jarrett McDonald has verbally agreed to accept a baseball scholarship with one of the nation's most successful junior college programs. McDonald, who bats from the left side and throws right, announced his intentions to sign with LSU Eunice via Twitter on Monday night.
McDonald is coming off of a remarkable junior season. He was named to both the Louisiana Sports Writers Association and Louisiana Baseball Coaches Association All-State teams after helping the Panthers (33-5) win their first state championship in program history. Inserted into the lineup as the leadoff batter, McDonald's season stat line included a .500 batting average, a .640 on base percentage, 55 hits, 2 home runs, 4 triples, 13 doubles, 38 RBI, 61 runs scored, 29 walks and 15 hit by pitches. McDonald, who spent last season at second base, received first-team All-District 2-2A accolades for the third straight year at his third position.
Pledging early has put McDonald's mind at ease.
"It's kind of like the elephant in the room. You see other people commit, and you start to feel the pressure," McDonald said. "Now, I know for a fact that I have somewhere to go. I think committing early is going to be good for me. It's a sense of relief knowing I have a chance to play at the next level."
McDonald has committed to a program which competes at a high level year in and year out. In 15 years under coach Jeff Willis, the Bengals have compiled a 791-235 record for a .769 winning percentage while winning five NJCAA Division II national championships (2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015).
"It's a good school and a good program," McDonald said of LSUE. "They are going to push me to get better."
McDonald, a 3.71 student, wasn't necessarily looking to sign with a juco, although LSUE was his only concrete offer. Former ULM coach Bruce Peddie also recruited the versatile McDonald, but the Warhawks made a coaching change at the end of last season.
"I have always had the dream of playing college baseball," McDonald said. "I was willing to try anywhere, but junior college is a good route. It's the preferred route for some people."
McDonald, who was the Panthers' designated hitter as a freshman and left fielder as a sophomore, may be in for yet another position change as a senior. He is getting a look at third base following the graduation of four-year starter and ULM signee Dalton Dopson.
LSUE did not recruit McDonald to play a specific position.
"Basically, coach Willis said if I can hit, he'll find me a place to play," McDonald said.
McDonald has hit everywhere he has played. His 2016 season line includes a .418 batting average, 4 home runs, 1 triple, 9 doubles and 26 RBI. As a freshman, he hit .321 with 1 home run, 9 doubles and 22 RBI.
As always, McDonald has set his goals high for the upcoming season.
"Every year, I write my goals on a sheet of paper," McDonald said. "Last year, I wanted to hit .500 or better. This year, I want to hit higher."
McDonald also includes team goals on his list.
"One of the goals I put down for last year was being a better teammate," McDonald said. "I am going to keep that goal for this year. I want to help others more and I want to do everything I can to help us win another state championship."
McDonald starts fall league play this weekend for Team Louisiana.
In the meantime he has been working out with former minor leaguer and West Ouachita standout Jamie Johnson at D-Bat.
"I am always trying to be better than last year, and better than yesterday," McDonald said. "I definitely need to improve my speed and fielding," McDonald said. "It's not all about hitting."
Verbal commitments are non-binding. McDonald becomes the second Sterlington senior to commit, joining shortstop Carson Clowers, who plans to sign with Shelton State (Ala.) Community College. The early signing period begins in November.