Sam Carter had been dreaming about playing in college since eighth grade.
The dream finally came true last Wednesday when he officially signed to play baseball at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia.
Despite receiving other offers from programs like Piedmont University and LaGrange College, Carter chose to be a Cougar for two main reasons.
“The campus, and I want to do art in college,” Carter said. “They have a really good art program.”
Carter joined the Oconee County baseball program his first year at the high school.
Last season, he earned first team all-region and all-state honors as a pitcher.
Carter said that he’s looking forward to his final season as a Warrior, but has enjoyed the fun times he’s had with his teammates at lock-ins and gatherings.
“He's done a lot for our ball team. He's one of our leaders,” said baseball head coach Tom Gooch in his introduction for Carter during last week’s signing event. “Every time we had to play someone who's really good, Sam got the ball. We just said, ‘Go win it,’ and most times he went and won it.”
Carter’s brother, two sisters and parents gathered around him at the table as he signed his letter of intent, and Carter’s teammates and friends watched from the crowd.
He was thankful they all were there to celebrate his achievement.
“It feels really good. I feel like I wouldn't be here without them, and I'm glad they got over to watch,” Carter said. “I’m just getting ready for the next four years.”
Gooch described Carter in his introduction as “laid back” in class, but a competitor when he steps on the mound.
“I think Columbus State liked his abilities, but when I'm talking to the coach, the biggest thing I spoke to wasn't about how hard he threw, how good his breaking ball was,” Gooch said. “But the kind of kid he is, the kind of student he is and then his intangibles, the things that you can't put on paper.”
During his junior year on the field, Carter helped Oconee County to a 19-11 record. The Warriors fell in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs to Sandy Creek.
Despite the Warriors’ 2020 season getting cut short due to COVID-19, Gooch said Carter has proven his skills and impact on the Oconee County team.
“Sam doesn't have any fear. And when you're out on a baseball diamond, especially on the mound, you can't have any fear,” Gooch said. “He's going to be an asset to the college he's going to and his teammates are gonna love him. We're going to hate to see him go after this year and I'm proud to have been his coach the last four years.”
Carter hopes to make an almost immediate impact on his Columbus State team during his first year.
To do so, he will have to break his way into a very successful program.
During their 2021 season, the Cougars won their sixth Peach Belt Conference Tournament Championship to advance to the NCAA tournament before falling in the Southeast Region final.
Carter said he is up to the challenge and he hopes to achieve great things in Columbus.
“I hope to be a big part of my team and hopefully we can win a big championship,” Carter said. “That's my goal.”