Shortstop starts in first year for UNA baseball

Freshman shortstop Josh Carpenter digs for home in a game against the Southern Arkansas Muleriders. Carpenter has had an impact on the scoreboard this season with 13 RBIs.

Freshman shortstop Josh Carpenter went from playing on the diamond in his backyard as a kid to playing at Mike D. Lane Field for the UNA Lions this season.

Josh Carpenter, a freshman from Harvest, is beginning his college career this year for the Lions after playing high school baseball at Sparkman High School a year ago. Division II baseball in the Gulf South Conference is a big adjustment from playing 6A baseball.

“It is a lot faster pace of game, and the games are longer, going to nine innings in college ball,” Carpenter said. “The players are bigger, people throw harder, and the runners are faster, but it is challenging. That is what you like.”

For any freshman, it can be extremely difficult to perform well on the field while adjusting to the college atmosphere, leaving your high school friends behind and fitting in with new teammates.

“It is hard leaving all your high school friends when you come here, but you meet new people who you know will be close to you the rest of your life,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter had many offers to play college baseball, but he instantly fell in love with the UNA program and its rich tradition of winning.

“UNA just stood out from the beginning,” Carpenter said. “It wasn’t far from home, I have family that lives close by if I need anything and I knew there have been some good baseball players that have come through. It felt like we could have a lot of winning while I was here.”

Carpenter has managed to fit in for the Lions, hitting .378 with 13 RBIs. The team has a 21-7 record and he has started in 22 of the 23 games he has played. Carpenter recently had a hitting streak of 13 games before getting it snapped against West Alabama.

“I just try to buy into what people try to do to help me, from the coaches and players,” Carpenter said. “You come out here and when you are down they pick you up, and they will point out what you are doing wrong.”

Carpenter and the team hopes to carry their early success throughout the rest of the season in winning the conference.

“We expect to win a lot of ball games the rest of the year,” Carpenter said. “We just need to go out and do our best to get the job done.”

When not on the diamond, Carpenter enjoys hanging out with teammates after practice and taking his talents to the Tennessee River for some fishing. Also, when not working on his game, he tries to catch his favorite team, the Atlanta Braves, and root for his favorite player, Chipper Jones.

Carpenter has not decided on his future after college, but he is in the College of Business and hopes to major in management information systems while at UNA.