A few days after graduating from Evans High School, Justin Walker returned to his alma matter last week.
There really wasn't a better place to sign his letter of intent to attend Augusta State University on a baseball scholarship this fall.
As parents, Lee and Sherri Walker, and other family members, coaches and teammates look on Evans High School's Justin Walker signs a letter of intent to attend Augusta State University on a baseball scholarship.
Photo by Mike Howell
Walker officially joined the Jaguars last Wednesday at the Evans Media Center, where friends, family members, teammates and coaches gathered for the signing ceremony.
"They've all been part of what I worked so hard for," he said. "Everybody here has helped me out along the way, and encouraged me, so I wanted them all to be here."
Much of the credit, though, belongs to Walker. He devoted time to playing fall baseball with the Martinez-Evans Barons travel team, and constantly honed his skills with an eye on one day playing at the collegiate level.
"I always felt he had potential. It was just a matter of him believing he could do the job at the plate," Evans coach Ricky Beale said. "He got in the weight room and worked, and it really paid off. He had a lot of confidence in himself this season."
During his senior season in 2002, Walker moved up to the third slot in the batting order and responded with a team-high batting average of over .450. At pitcher, he was a mainstay of a solid staff.
Walker says he settled on Augusta State because he'll have an opportunity to pitch and play in the field.
"I'm looking forward to doing both. I'd like to play middle infield, but I'd play anywhere just to be in the lineup," he says. " "I'm just going to work hard this off-season and maybe have a good showing this fall."
Beale expects no less from the Knight nicknamed "Bubba."
"He's one of those people, that when he says something, other players listen," Beale said. "His leadership and work ethic are what really stand out among everything he's done."
While Walker gets to stay close to home, he also will be surrounded by some familiar faces - former Evans player Wes Ward, Greenbrier's Alan Cannell and Harlem's Matt May all play ball for the Jags.
The signing marked a new chapter for Walker, but he'll take some memories along to the next level.
"I've had some of my greatest times playing baseball here at Evans," he said. "We always had that 'pinstripe pride.' Every time you walk out on the field, you're carrying that tradition with you. It's really been a lot of fun."
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