Two Houston High School seniors signed scholarship paperwork last Thursday to play college baseball: Sterling Jackson and Jacob Koch.
Jackson pitched and played first base for the Tigers, and was a 4-year varsity player. The 6-1 left-hander will play for North Central Missouri College in Trenton, where he will again see time on the mound and at first.
Jackson received offers from several schools (including NCAA Division II Drury University), but chose NCMC because they were interested in both his arm and bat. If things work out, he doesn’t rule out playing for Drury in the future.
“It’s been a journey, and I’ve worked countless hours at it,” Jackson said. “It’s nice to know that I’ve got somewhere to go and they want me there and have made that known.”
Jackson said playing for HHS head coach Brent Hall has been a memorable experience.
“He’s like a dad to all of us,” Jackson said. “Even if you’re not good at baseball, if you work hard for Coach Hall, he will drop everything to go help you and he’ll do anything for you.”
“It was a joy to coach Sterling and the rest of his senior class the last 3 ½ years,” Hall said. “Sterling put in countless hours to get himself this opportunity. He was one of the hardest workers on the team and was one of our team leaders.
“I believe Sterling will fare well at the next level with his skill set.”
Houston won the Class 3 District 10 championship in 2019, the program’s first district title since 2007. Jackson hit a grand slam home run in the title game victory over Mountain Grove. He attributed the Tigers’ success to the way a bunch of individuals became a unit.
“It’s a family thing – you’re in this together,” he said. “Back when me and Jacob were underclassmen, we didn’t feel like a family. Kids didn’t get along and stuff like that, and it showed on the field and in our record. But once we became a family and bought into what Coach Hall was doing, we started winning.
“Family and togetherness wins.”
Koch will play at North Arkansas College in Harrison, Ark. The 6-2 right-hander was a varsity player for three years at HHS and was used by Hall as both a pitcher and infielder.
As a member of the Pioneers, Koch will likely be used both on the mound and in the field again.
“Jacob has the ability to succeed at the next level,” said HHS head coach Brent Hall. “He has put in the work to get himself this opportunity, and he will continue to improve as he grows and gets stronger. I look forward to seeing what he will be able to do at the next level.”
Koch said playing for Houston has had a major effect on him, both in the game and as a person.
“There are so many things I take with me from playing for coach Hall and the Tigers,” he said. “One huge thing is the chemistry the team had; it made me a better friend, teammate and person. All in all, playing for this Houston baseball team has shaped me into the person I am today, and I will forever cherish the friendships and bonds I have made over the years.”
Although there won’t be an actual high school baseball season this year due to COVID-19, Hall and Co. have growing hope that the Tigers will be able to play some games in the coming weeks or months.
“Lord willing,” Jackson said. “It’s in His hands.”