With two state championship victories and four final four appearances on his resume, Garrett Carmichael leaves a winning pedigree at Wheelersburg to start a new chapter in his life.
Carmichael began writing that chapter Wednesday as he signed with Sinclair Community College to play baseball.
The former Pirate will most likely play second base or shortstop at the next level, which is where he played exclusively for coach Michael Estep at Wheelersburg.
With lofty aspirations, when Carmichael arrives on campus, he plans on hitting the weight room.
“I plan on going up there, when we start our work outs and even before, working out, getting a lot stronger, bigger, faster and trying to earn a starting spot as a freshman,” Carmichael said.
Carmichael is no stranger to achieving high bench marks, as evident by his sophomore campaign with the Pirates.
That year, Carmichael began the season hitting toward the bottom of the order as a new starter looking to earn his stripes on a championship-caliber team. By the end of the year, Carmichael had worked his way up the lineup. During the state-championship contest, he hit in the No. 3 spot in the lineup, which is typically reserved for the team’s best and most consistent hitter.
Defensively, Carmichael was equally up to the task as starting pitcher Wade Martin was working on a perfect game going into the seventh inning.
According to Estep, Carmichael was a significant reason why Martin had an unblemished streak intact late in the ball game, as the second baseman made a couple of gold-glove caliber plays during the championship game that preserved the victory for the Pirates.
During his final two seasons, after switching from second to short, Carmichael made a seamless transition without missing a beat. Also during his final two games in the orange and black, Carmichael settled in at the top of the order, which is reserved for players who are known for getting on base and wreaking havoc.
“He has great hands, handles the bat well, can bunt, can hit and run, can hit behind runners,” Estep said. “And I think those attributes will serve him well. We tried to execute the small ball game in high school. And when he can go in pretty confident doing those types of things as a freshman in college, he will put himself in a position to hopefully find the field a little earlier than expected.
“I feel like, when we send kids away from our program and things, the learning curve is pretty short.”
Estep knows the Pirates will have a hard time replacing Carmichael’s production on the diamond, but Wheelersburg will have an arduous time trying to replace his character around the school and in the community.
“He’s been a good ambassador of what we try to instill in our guys in our communities,” Estep said. “He comes up and spends time with our little leaguers. When he shows up in that car, pulls in the parking lot, those kids have smiles on their faces. He knows the importance of giving back and being a good role model to the younger kids.”
In today’s society, finding good athletes that exemplify leadership on the field and in the community can be challenging. However, Carmichael as found a few players that have helped him solidify his views.
Carmichael was always drawn to Jackie Robinson as a kid because of the adversities Robinson dealt with in his life and professional career, and how he managed to prevail through those circumstances.
In today’s world, Carmichael admires Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton and Washington’s Bryce Harper because of their hard work and dedication toward the game. But one player in particular sticks out in Carmichael’s mind as an ambassador for the game of baseball — the way it should be played on the diamond and how a professional should conduct himself away from the game — and that player is New York Yankee short stop Derek Jeter.
“He’s just a classy guy,” Carmichael said. “He’s just a class act and the way he plays the game is the right way. He’s not some cocky, arrogant guy. He knows he’s good but he handles it great.”
Regardless of where life takes Carmichael, he isn’t about to change is persona.
“You just never want to forget where you came from, where you were raised,” Carmichael said. “You just always want to give back to your community. It just says a lot about someone if they are willing to come back and invest their time for somebody else.”
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.