It only took two looks in person at Cal Jarrett to sell the Cincinnati Bearcats baseball coaches on the Dixon junior.
It was only fitting, then, that it was the Bearcats’ coaching staff that was the final selling point for Jarrett.
Jarrett verbally committed Tuesday to pitch at the University of Cincinnati starting in the spring of 2016, 3 months after a successful showing at a junior class showcase in Fort Myers, Fla., put him high on the Bearcats’ wish list.
“They saw me pitch twice, and approached me afterward and said they’d love to have me,” Jarrett said. “I made two visits, and I really liked the campus and the program, but it was the coaches who sold me on it.
“They seem like guys I’d love to play for, and who will get the most out of me.”
Per NCAA rules, Jarrett cannot sign an official letter of intent until he is a senior, which means he has to wait to make it official until the fall of 2015.
But barring any changes to the Bearcats coaching staff or Jarrett’s desires, the Dukes’ two-sport standout will be headed to Cincinnati to further his education and baseball career.
“As a kid, I always wanted to play Division I baseball,” Jarrett said, “and this is kind of like a check-mark for me, telling me I’ve worked hard and done a good job. Now, I know the next step, but I’m not ready for it to stop there, either.”
Jarrett has been a starter in both baseball and basketball since he was a freshman. He has been a part of the Dukes’ starting pitching rotation since Day 1, and also batted cleanup while playing first base and outfield when he’s not on the mound.
On the basketball court, Jarrett led Dixon in all five major stat categories as a sophomore last season, and leads the way in scoring (13.1 ppg) and rebounding (7.8 rpg) again this year.
“This couldn’t happen for a more deserving kid,” Dixon head basketball coach and assistant varsity baseball coach Jason Mead said. “I have nothing but great things to say about Cal. He works his tail off, goes about things the right way, and is extremely coachable.
“He’s so good at getting the most out of what he has, and I’m sure he’ll continue to do that at the next level, as well.”
Jarrett said he was aware of Cincinnati’s baseball program before they first approached him. He knows the Bearcats play one of the toughest nonconference schedules around, and though they finished below .500 the last two seasons in the Big East, they’re now part of the American Athletic Conference, made up of former Big East squads.
The fact that Cincinnati had a freshman All-American last year in second baseman Ian Happ, combined with its recent sub-.500 finishes, means Jarrett could be relied upon right away, and may be able to make an impact from Day 1.
Making the decision so early is a load off Jarrett’s mind, but he knows there will be ramifications over the next two springs.
“I’ll have a target on my back, and hitters will be fired up to face me now,” Jarrett said. “But that just means they respect you … and I’ll be ready to face them, too. I love challenges, and I look forward to this one.”
The toughest part of the equation will be giving up basketball after next season, a sport Jarrett said he loves just as much as baseball. But the ability to get a quality education paid for, as well as continue his athletic career, will more than make up for him missing the court.
“I love both sports, but I was always going to go with whichever one I could play at the highest level,” Jarrett said. “I just feel blessed to have this opportunity, and I’m going to do my best to make the most of it.”
Sports: Baseball, basketball
FYI: Will be a 4-year starter in both sports by the time he graduates in Spring 2016. … Verbally committed to play baseball in college at Cincinnati, but cannot officially sign with team until Fall 2015. … Has been part of Dixon baseball team’s starting rotation each of last two seasons. … Led Dukes basketball team, in all five major stat categories last season, and is the leading scorer and rebounder this winter.