Vancleave senior slugger Carson Paetow didn’t hesitate this week when the Southern Miss baseball staff gave him the scholarship offer that he had been hoping for.
“I was like, ‘Coach, I probably shouldn’t jump the gun,’ but I took it on the spot,” the left-handed center fielder said Friday night.
Paetow made his verbal commitment public on social media Friday night, giving the Golden Eagles a boost for the Class of 2020.
He originally committed to Pearl River Community College in July, but new USM hitting coach/recruiting coordinator Travis Creel had kept an eye on Paetow after seeing him play in the Mississippi State Games in Meridian in late May while he was still on the staff at Louisiana Tech.
About three weeks later, Creel landed a job at his alma mater in Hattiesburg.
While Creel indicated to Paetow that he planned to offer him a scholarship at Louisiana Tech, it wasn’t until Paetow had a strong performance during a recent showcase in Hattiesburg that the USM staff decided to follow through with an offer.
At first, Southern Miss indicated that he would be placed on scholarship after spending one season as a walk-on.
“When he gave me the walk-on offer, I told him I appreciated the opportunity, but as of right now I would just stick with Pearl River because it would be cheaper for my freshman year,” Paetow said. “They just answered by saying, ‘We really want you. Here’s a better offer.’”
Paetow quickly committed to the Golden Eagles — a decision that has the approval of his family.
“They’re very proud, happy,” he said. “They’re thankful I’ve been put in this position. Their No. 1 rule is to stay humble, and that’s a good rule to live by.”
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Paetow had a breakout season as a junior after being limited to only five games as a sophomore due to an elbow injury on his throwing arm.
Vancleave head coach Justin Edwards, who is entering his second season on the job, was instantly impressed by Paetow once he took over the program.
“He’s just a worker,” Edwards said. “He’s been getting after it ever since I got here last July. He didn’t have a lot of experience because of an arm injury, but I’ve never seen someone as committed to their craft as he is. He gets after it every single day. He’s an extreme competitor. He’s willing to do what it takes to get better and help our team win.”
The center fielder played in all 28 games as a junior, hitting .430 with five home runs and 36 RBIs to earn a spot on the Sun Herald’s All-South Mississippi Team. On the base paths, he led Vancleave with 14 stolen bases.
As a senior, Edwards sees Paetow taking an even bigger leap at the plate.
“I think he’s just kind of on the surface,” Edwards said. “He hasn’t tapped his full potential. He’s big, strong, can really run and can flat out hit. The sky is the limit if he continues to work like he has over the last year and a half.”
Paetow flashed good power with a pair of two-home run games last year, but Edwards believes the senior offers a complete approach at the plate.
“I think he’s an all-around hitter,” Edwards said. “He can hit for power, go gap to gap. He finds ways to get on base. He’s a patient guy that doesn’t press during his at-bats. He takes what the pitcher gives him. He has a very mature approach for a high school hitter. He hits to all fields.”
Paetow will also see some time on the pitcher’s mound this season after fully recovering from his elbow injury.