Jordan senior Austin Sanders thought back to playing baseball with teammate Eric Newman in middle school. Even at that point in their young playing careers, Sanders said the two thought about their futures and imagined signing college scholarships side by side.
On Thursday, those dreams came true.
Sanders and Newman signed to play baseball at Point University in a ceremony at Jordan. The signing was a big occasion for both players, who got to see their aspirations of playing collegiately lead them to the same college.
“It’s just an honor, just to play with a player I played high school baseball with and just go to the next level,” Sanders said. “I can’t be grateful enough.”
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Sanders came back strong after being ineligible his junior year, hitting .404 with one home run and 26 RBIs and throwing 48.2 innings on the mound with three victories and 51 strikeouts. Newman played multiple positions for the Red Jackets and posted a .310 batting average with 21 RBIs.
Newman recalled what happened about three weeks ago at Point that led to this opportunity. Both players were put through a two-hour workout, which allowed the coaches to evaluate if they were right from the program.
Once the workout came to a close, Newman had no doubt what was coming.
“We both showed out during the workout,” Newman said. “I was like, ‘Yeah. They’re going to offer both of us.’ Here we are.”
“They just welcomed me and Eric and the three that went with us,” Sanders said. “They welcomed us like family. When I got the offer, I was like, ‘That’s where I want to go.’”
Newman came to Jordan for his senior season after playing at Kendrick his first three years. During that time, he became close with his new teammates and also reached the playoffs for the first time in his career. He said his favorite moment came on March 11, when he returned to the team after suffering a concussion and helped the Red Jackets beat Marion County 14-2.
Newman said the entire Jordan experience prepared him to move on to the next level.
“(Head coach Tony) Dimitri is amazing,” Newman said. “He got me ready mentally and physically. Everybody around me was good, too, so they pushed me to do better and not be content with what I was doing. We had guys getting 40 hits, and that made me want to get 40 hits, too.”
Sanders also said playing at Jordan was pivotal in his development, both on and off the diamond.
“It helped me grow, not only as an athlete but as a young man,” Sanders said. (Dimitri and assistant John Dimitri), they helped me. My family, the teachers, this whole school helped me become who I am today. It’s been amazing.
Sanders said he is looking forward to getting settled in at Point and starting over again at a higher level. Newman said he can’t wait to get to know his new teammates and build the same bonds he formed in his lone year as a Red Jacket.
“It makes me really happy, knowing I made everybody proud,” Newman said. “For all my family and friends to see me sign, it makes it 10 times more special knowing they’re happy.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports