One Bearkat was offered every little leaguers dream: A chance to pitch in the big leagues.
Sam Houston State University senior pitcher Justin Jackson was drafted by the Miami Marlins during the 27 round (827 overall) in the MLB draft on June 6.
Jackson ended his collegiate season 9-4, which included a win over the Rice Owls in the postseason NCAA tournament that kept the Bearkats in the tournament.
This season the right-hander from Magnolia, Texas led the team in wins and was second in the lineup with a 2.69 ERA. He pitched two complete games and tallied up 65 strikeouts.
Jackson managed a 15-6 record and struck out 152 batters (17 best in SHSU history) and totaled a 3.95 ERA over his college career.
Jackson was designated an All-Southland honorable mention selection last season.
He is keeping the Bearkat streak of draftees alive by being drafted; as this is the seventh consecutive season that SHSU has had at least one player drafted. Jackson is the 41st Bearkat selected in the MLB draft.
The 23-year-old kinesiology major has been playing ball since he was eight years old.
It is definitely a change of scenery, Jackson said. I got drafted on Wednesday, and went back up to Huntsville and moved all my stuff out, and was on a plane on Sunday [to Jupiter, Fla].
Jupiter is where all the new [Marlin] draftees come to get a physical, and we have a three-day camp, and then they assign us to a team, Jackson said.
The draftees, including Jackson, will be assigned to either the Marlins National League team, or a triple-A, double-A or single-A team.
Jackson knows hard work is the key that got him to Jupiter.
I had Tommy John surgery in April of last year and I knew it would take a lot of hard work to get to where I wanted to go, he said. I’ve learned through that, that if you truly want something you are going to have to work hard at it and be relentless.
Tommy John surgery is commonly performed on athletes elbows that have been badly damaged after years of great stress from the repetitive motions of baseball.
Although Jackson will continue making new memories, his past memories with SHSUs team wont be forgotten.
I definitely enjoyed my time at SHSU, Jackson said. I met some good people and was a part of three championship teams: 2008 and 2009 Conference Tournament Champions and 2012 Southland Conference Champions. The relationships with the friends I have played with here, I will forever cherish.
Jackson is humble and knows he didnt get to Jupiter on his own.
If I didn’t have the coaches that I have had, to help me become a better person, and a better ballplayer, I wouldnt be here, he said.