Sterlington senior Jarrett McDonald has signed a letter-of-intent to continue his baseball career with the LSU Eunice Bengals.
When you can hit, people notice.
Coming off of a monumental season at the plate, Sterlington senior Jarrett McDonald signed a letter-of-intent with one of the nation's premier junior college programs.
Following up on a September verbal commitment to LSU Eunice, McDonald made it official during a Wednesday morning ceremony at SHS.
"I'm glad to have it over with — it's a relief," said McDonald, who has a 3.71 grade point average.
Helping the Panthers (33-5) to their first state championship in program history last season, McDonald reached base safely in all 38 games while batting leadoff. His final season stat line featured a .500 batting average, a .690 on base percentage, 55 hits, 2 home runs, 4 triples, 13 doubles, 38 RBI and 61 runs scored. He was also hit by a pitch 15 times and went through more Franklin batting gloves than his parents could keep track of.
McDonald joins a juggernaut program, which has compiled a 720-175 record (.804 winning percentage) while winning five national championships (2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017) over the past 15 years.
Sterlington coach Mark Sims believes the signing is a good fit for both McDonald and the Bengals.
"LSU Eunice is getting a good one," Sims said. "They have one of the best junior college programs in the country, and send a lot of guys to SEC schools."
By the time LSUE offered, McDonald was already sold on the program.
"I love the coaching staff there," McDonald said. "They train hard, which is one thing I'm big on. They are going to push you to be the best you can be."
McDonald, who has played travel ball extensively, prefers demanding coaches.
"Team Louisiana had a high-energy coach, Justin Macantrel, who wanted you to be moving at all times," McDonald said. "Matt Wilson, my travel ball coach, has had a big impact on me. Coach Sims, coach Bucky (Chandler) and (former Sterlington coach) Randy Carr all had a big part in this. These are coaches that push you. If you slack off with them, it's not going to be good."
McDonald's willingness to put in the work — at practice and on his own — is evident when he steps on the field.
"I'm glad to see Jarrett getting his recognition," Sims said. "This is a product of all the hard work he has put in. You don't just show up, and things start happening. Jarrett definitely put in the time to get to this point."
Shortly after signing, McDonald made it clear that his focus is on the upcoming high school season.
"Signing takes some of the stress off, but as a team, we have to go hard every day if we are going to have the type of season we want to have," McDonald said.
Sterlington must replace a trio of four-year starters from its state championship team in staff ace and Class 2A MVP Spencer Davis, third baseman and ULM signee Dalton Dopson and center fielder Jacob Barr.
Filling the void for Davis (12-0, 1.29 ERA), the team's emotional leader, is the most pressing concern as preseason practice approaches.
"I think our pitchers will come around," McDonald said. "(Trey) Rugg, (Adam) Tubbs and Hixson (Street) are ready to step up. I know we have a lot of competitors on this team, so I am confident somebody will step up and do the job."
McDonald, an All-State second baseman last season, could take over for Dopson at third base.
A three-time first-team All-District 2-2A honoree, the lefty-swinging McDonald has also played left field for the Panthers. McDonald is uncertain where he will play at his next stop.
"They are looking for corners," McDonald said. "(LSUE coach Jeff Willis) told me, 'If you can hit, we'll find a place for you to play,'" which kind of reminded me of coach Sims."