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Former Cats revel in first, last year at asbury

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By Greg Woods

Former Wildcat baseball player Jared Payton recently finished his freshman year as a baseball player for Asbury College.

Payton had limited varsity playing time this year but will return next year with a season of experience under his belt.

Payton went 3-for-14 at the plate and started five games. He appeared in four other games. He had two runs scored and one RBI.

Another former Wildcat, Anthony Palmer, said goodbye to Asbury after a senior year in which he had several starts and relief appearances on the mound for the Eagles. Palmer finished his senior year with a 4-3 record and 7.59 ERA. He struck out 16 batters and walked 16.

Payton enjoyed his first year of college. “So far my college experience has been pretty good,” he said. “I have enjoyed playing baseball and making new friends along the way, while having two already good friends here in Austyn Sailings and Anthony Palmer.”

Palmer also found his college experience to be satisfactory. “My college experience was great,” he said. “Asbury was a really good place to get an education. I met a lot of really great people, traveled on mission trips to the Dominican Republic and played a lot of really competitive baseball.”

Payton felt the college game offered tough challenges for a player fresh out of the high school game.

“The toughest adjustment for me to make was the speed of the game,” he said. “In college everything is much faster, especially the pitchers.”

For Palmer the toughest adjustment was off the field. “The toughest adjustment from high school to college sports is your management of your free time,” he said.

“You practice six days a week, while having mandatory study hall and a minimum of six study hours a week in the library. The toughest adjustment as a pitcher was changing your pitching mentality from high school to college.

“The talent of college hitters is far superior to those we faced in high school. So, for me, it was going from a strikeout pitcher, to a groundout/fly out pitcher.”

Payton credits Palmer and Henry County Wildcat assistant coach Travis Martin with helping to make the transition to college easier. “Coming to Asbury I was pretty prepared and knew what to expect,” he said. “I never really had to worry about anything because any questions I had I could just ask Anthony who is still here and Travis Martin who played at Asbury and who helped coach my senior year at Henry County.”

Palmer felt that he had a little tougher time adjusting because he was on his own. “College was a big difference from high school, however, it was a great investment made,” he said. “The toughest part of adjusting was figuring everything out on your own.

“As high school students, we really take for granted how much work our parents put into helping us during our high school days. That was really the only major difference from high school, despite the level of difficulty of classes at a liberal arts college like Asbury.

“If I could have gone and done it differently, I would still have chosen to go to Asbury. Asbury changed my life for the better. I finished out a great career in baseball, while getting a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and strengthening my relationship with Christ along the way. Asbury is a great place to get an education and I would encourage anyone to enroll there if they are looking for a life changing experience.”

According to Payton it has been great to have another Henry Countian with experience around to guide him.

“Having Anthony here has been a true blessing. He has been like a brother to me. He is an inspiration not only to me but also to other kids on the team, by not only being a leader on the baseball field but off it spiritually.”

Palmer was glad to have a former Wildcat teammate around. “It was a privilege having Jared as a teammate again,” he said. 

“I did the best I could to lead him on and off the field. I just hope that he realizes how special a place Asbury is, which I’m sure he will. He has a bright future at Asbury and I am proud to pass on the torch to him to represent Henry County the way Travis Martin and I did.”