featureNL senior Trent Nickerson signs with Panola College to extend baseball-playing career
NL senior Trent Nickerson signs with Panola College

NL senior Trent Nickerson signs with Panola College to extend baseball-playing career

The North Lamar High School baseball program has continued to rise through the guidance of its young and talented players under the meticulous orchestration of head coach Bric Steed. As the program continues to build and trend upward, the Panthers’ ace on the mound secured his future beyond the Blue and Gold. With that, senior pitcher Trent Nickerson signed with Panola College to further his baseball career. Nickerson will join the Carthage-based public community college following his senior season with North Lamar as a pitcher.

Finding a new home away from home

Even though he had other options on the table, Trent was appreciative and mindful of the surge of interest the Ponies showed him from the start, which made his decision easier.

“Before even talking to Panola, I was talking to some other schools but not too much,” Trent said. “I went down and threw at Panola later on, and they were really interested. They were the only school to show this much interest so, when I went down there the next week, they offered me a scholarship. With them being the first ones to offer me, it sparked something in me to really like them. I really like the team, the campus — I feel like it’s the best place for me.”

Proving the haters wrong pitch by pitch

Although other schools passed up on Trent’s services, Steed believes the Panola Ponies are getting an absolute steal on the recruitment trail considering the talent and intangibles he has seen in his years coaching Trent.

“In my evaluation of Trent as both a baseball coach and former recruiter, I know his capabilities are so much further even than what they are at this moment,” Steed said. “I know COVID has been sort of a setback in ways, but talent-wise, I believe Trent is a Division I player. He’s going to go to Panola and do really well, and I think people will see a velocity increase. Right now, he is throwing 87 miles per hour, but I could see him potentially being a low-90’s type of guy. He will grow at Panola and with any other opportunities he takes on along the way…In my mind, I see him being an SEC of Big 12 caliber of player with his size and caliber of player he is, but his ceiling is high wherever he goes.”

As for the doubters and the schools who did not send him an offer, Trent is eager to show them what they are missing out on while proving Panola right in its assessment of him.

“I most excited about proving myself. I had some other colleges that were interested in me in their (Panola’s) conference, but they didn’t really offer me anything. For me, it’s proving to them that they missed out,” Trent said. “I’m just ready to show everyone that they could have had someone Panola got instead.”

An evolving mind

Having the right mindset is crucial when competing in a sport of any kind. Consequently, Trent has continuously become more bold, confident, and disciplined over the years to help his mentality match his game. Even though he may not be the loudest, his game has picked up the missing decibels to provide Trent with a loud presence on the field, and the vocal aspect has increased over time.

“I think the most important thing for me has been my mentality,” Trent said. “From my freshman year up to now, my mentality has really improved. Instead of being a timid little freshman, I know I’m a bulldog when I step onto the mound. It’s really helped me improve on the mound and in other areas as well. My mentality on the field is much improved — I know I’m one of the better players when I step onto the field.”

“If you just meet or talk to Trent, he seems like a soft-spoken, quiet kid. As soon as he gets on the baseball field, that is not the same. He has a bulldog mentality and he attacks with the belief of winning every time he steps out onto the field,” Steed said. “That kind of intangible is the one that we are all looking for. That’s what you want out of your kids when they step on the mound, just, ‘Give me the ball and let me go to work.’ He’s got that instinct and is a great leader through his actions. Any time he shows emotion when he’s really rolling, it really fires up the team and fuels them. He has so much positive emotion coming out.”

The best is yet to come

Trent hopes to unleash boundless big moments for North Lamar this season. In his last full season as a sophomore, Trent threw 47.1 innings with a 2.66 ERA and 78 strikeouts. Trent expects more success for him and the Panthers during his last high school season, and he feels strongly that he and his teammates can accomplish their success-oriented goals this year.

“It’s really important because it’s my senior year, and everyone wants to be the best they can be when they are a senior,” Trent said. “Our main goal is to be the best team on the field every time we play, win as many games as possible, and to execute each play out there…I think we should be just as good if not better than we were last year. All of the time we had off from COVID and all of that, we were out here safely working together as a team looking to get better. I think people should expect even better than what they did last year.”

With his work ethic, attitude, and skill level all working in his favor, Steed foresees more success in Trent’s future and that of the North Lamar baseball program.

“Since he’s been in this program, Trent has done nothing but pour lots of value into this program. He’s always putting into the bucket instead of taking out,” Steed said. “He’s always had a great attitude, he’s always listened, he’s always worked hard, and he’s just always been able to take construction and coaching. He’s done nothing but develop into a great leader. He’s one of our four captains, which is expected, because he’s done a great job being a leader in this program. It’s been a blessing to me just to have him and be able to coach him. He’s been awesome to be around and awesome to coach, and I’m lucky and fortunate to be around for this opportunity.”

Trent will help pace the Panthers through the upcoming season towards the end of January 2021. For more sports coverage, click here.

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