Baseball: Competitive drive propels Pickerington North's Jarett Barnes

DAVE PURPURA
dpurpura@thisweeknews.com
North's Jarett Barnes, an Ashland recruit, was poised for a successful senior campaign as one of the Panthers' top pitchers and expected leadoff hitter before the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Jarett Barnes confidently stated every goal he had hoped to achieve and every record he wanted to break during his senior season with the Pickerington North baseball team.

The pitcher, outfielder and shortstop, an Ashland recruit, wanted to become the Panthers' single-season leader in games played and also wanted to own single-season and career marks in home runs and stolen bases.

Through three seasons, Barnes had one home run and 14 stolen bases.

Alex Bayer, a 2009 graduate, owns the home run marks with seven as a senior and 10 in his career, and 2013 graduate Ryan Miller recorded 20 of his 36 career stolen bases during his senior season.

The single-season record for games played is 34, shared by five players from the 2009 Division I state runner-up team.

If those goals were lofty for Barnes, he did not care, and neither did coach Tim Thomas.

"Everything for him is a competition," Thomas said. "In my 27 or 28 years of coaching, he's one of those kids who stands out (because) of just how competitive he is and how driven he is to get better. It's hard to put into words but there aren't many kids like him at this age who are so driven."

Barnes took a practical approach after the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

"I wanted to leave it all out on the field for my senior year," he said. "Right when the season got canceled, I was upset but then I saw it as an opportunity to stay in the weight room, gain some weight I hadn't been able to put on over the winter and then look forward to college."

Barnes batted .280 with 23 hits, a home run and 10 RBI as a junior as North went 18-10 overall and 9-5 in the OCC-Ohio Division, losing to Hilliard Bradley 2-1 in a Division I district semifinal.

Barnes had a .907 fielding percentage and, on the mound, went 1-0 with a 3.20 ERA, 10 walks and 22 strikeouts in nine appearances.

That was a dramatic step up in playing time and responsibility from his sophomore year, when he batted .300 and played in 10 of the Panthers' 27 games.

Barnes said he feels most comfortable at shortstop but planned to also play center field this season, the same spot he expects to occupy in college. Barnes and Thomas both expected him to bat leadoff and split time pitching in North's league games with classmate Jacob Chadwick.

"I enjoy shortstop way more. I feel like I am a field general when I am at shortstop," Barnes said. "I can talk to people and help people out when they need it, really control the game. But center field comes easy to me."

Ashland's six consecutive appearances in the Division II College World Series and the presence of former Panthers teammate Dillan Smith on the roster made the school an easy sell for Barnes, who also formerly played summer ball for Eagles coach John Schaly.

"They've been on my radar since my freshman year," said Barnes, who committed last Aug. 11. "They brought me in, took me on a tour and offered me right there."

Thomas compared Barnes' overall skills to Smith's.

"(Smith) could play different positions at a top level and (at Ashland,) he got a chance to do some different things to see where he'd fit in," Thomas said. "I see Jarett doing the same thing."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

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