Player of the Year: Baker benefits from long commitment to sport
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
December 08, 2013 01:37 AM | 2013 views | 0 0 comments | 51 51 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jessica Baker
<BR>Staff photo by Todd Hull
Jessica Baker
Staff photo by Todd Hull
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Jessica Baker has long had a love for softball, a sport she has been playing for 13 years.

The River Ridge senior is a two-sport athlete, and at one point in middle school, she gave up softball in favor of basketball. But after taking two seasons off, Baker returned to the diamond and she can’t imagine not playing now.

In fact, she’ll continue playing on the next level, having committed to play at Armstrong Atlantic, a Division II program in Savannah.

“It’s always been a key factor in my life,” Baker said. “I actually didn’t play for a couple of years, but I missed it and picked it back up. I’ve played for the rest of my (high school) career.”

Baker played four seasons for the Lady Knights’ softball team, and the best season by far was the final one. She finished the season batting .412 with 11 doubles, 23 RBIs and 23 runs scored.

Named the team’s most valuable player, Baker also earned recognition as first-team all-Region 7AAAA after maintaining a batting average of better than .500 through region play.

Perhaps Baker’s greatest accomplishment this season was helping River Ridge reach the Class AAAA state playoffs.

For her contributions this season, Baker is the 2013 Cherokee Tribune Softball Player of the Year.

“I thought I had a pretty good season, but I think the whole team just really meshed well, and there was no way that I would have gotten Player of the Year without my team,” Baker said.

As she looks back on her career, there are a lot of things Baker can be proud of. Among her accomplishments is maintaining a batting average of greater than .400 through four varsity seasons. This season, she struck out just 12 times in 102 at-bats.

In addition to her success at the plate, Baker also tamed the field. A corner infielder, she made the shift from first to third prior to her sophomore year. Two years later, she looks like a natural in the spot.

“It’s a hard position, and I like the pressure that comes with the position,” Baker said of her role at third base. “I definitely had to learn the position, but I love it now.”

While River Ridge went through the growing pains of moving from Class AA to Class AAAA over the span of two seasons, Baker embraced the change.

“I loved every minute of it,” she said. “To be a part of starting the traditions and to start building the program has been great.”

Baker knows she will missing playing at River Ridge, but she’s looking forward to being a part of another program at Armstrong.

“It will be something new for me to embrace,” she said.
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