Jackson Sweatt signed scholarship papers to play baseball at Southern Union Community College in Wadley on Thursday night in Pell City High School’s library.
“I am really excited,” Sweatt said. “I have heard really great things about Coach (Aaron) Everett so far from my friends that already go there. He (Coach Everett) told me about the program and what he wants to accomplish there. I am excited to experience that.”
Sweatt has been working for this opportunity his entire life.
The Pell City standout began playing baseball at age 2. His love of the game came from his dad. Sweatt was coached by his father for years. Sweatt said that when his dad passed away in 2012, baseball became an obsession.
“The biggest motivation that I have had was from my dad,” Sweatt said. “When he passed away, it was a big motivator for me to get to this part. It is not that I need to do this for me, but it is I need to do this for him. That is really my motivation when it comes to workouts and playing.”
Sweatt knows his father would be proud of him for accomplishing his goal of signing a baseball scholarship.
“Every day that I go to baseball, it is to impress him,” he said. “I know he is impressed and he is happy right now because I made it the point that I always wanted to be. He is the motivation that y’all don’t know about. He is the one that wakes me up every morning. That is where I get that from.”
Pell City head coach Andrew Tarver was elated Sweatt will have the opportunity to continue his academic and baseball career at Southern Union.
“Southern Union is getting a really good player,” Tarver said. “Jackson works hard every day. He can play just about any position, but the one that he wants to play is catcher. They are getting a good ballplayer and they are getting a good student as well.”
Sweatt committed to Southern Union on July 13. The senior said he knew Southern Union was the right place for him when he stepped on campus for a visit.
“When I was looking for a college, I was looking for a place that felt like home,” Sweatt said. “When I went to Wadley and saw Southern Union, I fell in love with it. It is small, everybody was really friendly there and it felt like home.”
Signing before the season will allow Sweatt to play his game without worrying about his baseball future. Sweatt said signing early gives him an added sense of confidence.
“A lot of times you are told not to worry about the dude that is committed, but when you are the one, it is a big confidence builder,” he said. “In your mind, you are like, ‘Nobody can stop me.’ It is going to be awesome.”
Sweatt and the Panthers only played 14 games in 2020 before their season came to an end due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Panthers were expecting to make a deep run last season after returning several key players from a 2019 team that won 23 games and made the second round of the playoffs.
Sweatt said the work ethic of the players on this season’s team is different.
“We work like nobody’s business,” he said. “We get in there and we grind. We have one goal, and that is to get to the state championship. We motivate each other in ways that I didn’t know were possible. We push each other and grind really hard to achieve our goal. I can’t thank them enough for motivating me to do what I do.”