Mars grad transfers to Pitt
PITTSBURGH — Baseball took Jack Anderson far from home. Now it's helped to bring him back.
The 2018 Mars Area High School graduate originally accepted an athletic scholarship to play baseball at Northwestern University. He transferred to State College of Florida for the 2020-21 school year, where he starred on the diamond for the Manatees, a junior college program.
Playing mostly first base, Anderson batted .314 with five home runs last spring. He tallied 38 runs batted in and 46 runs scored in 52 games.
“I was thinking of transferring to Pitt from Northwestern, but would've had to sit out a year,” Anderson said. “I didn't want to do that, so I transferred to a junior college. It was always my plan to come back to a Division I school and I always thought about coming back home.”
The University of Pittsburgh offered that opportunity and Anderson, a business major, is now enrolled at Pitt and taking part in the baseball team's fall workouts.
He was a key member of Mars' teams in 2017 and 2018 that both played in the WPIAL championship game. As a senior catcher with the Planets, he batted .420 with four home runs.
Anderson showed promise in 21 starts as a catcher and designated hitter at Northwestern, including a 3-hit game against Chicago State as a freshman. His sophomore season was cut short by COVID.
He gained valuable experience in his one year at State College of Florida. Junior College baseball in the Sunshine State is very competitive.
In SCF's 60 years of fielding a baseball team, 240 players have gone on to play professional baseball.
Anderson aspires to add himself to that list.
“Playing in the pros has always been a goal of mine, even before college. I think about it every day,” said Anderson. “Because of COVID, I have two years of (college) eligibility left. I want to play well next spring and go from there.”
Anderson, who has batted in every spot from fourth to eighth in a college lineup, said he's getting a lot of reps at first base with Pitt this fall.
“I definitely feel more comfortable catching, but I've picked up a lot from playing first,” he said. “Anything I can do to help the team, I'm all for it.”
Anderson is one of 23 newcomers to Pitt's baseball program, nine of which have prior Division I experience.
“I'm really excited about the depth and talent of this class,” Pitt coach Mike Bell said in a released statement. “This group ... will definitely uphold the gold standards set forth here at Pitt. We knew we would be replacing some key departures, and I truly feel like we recruited to not only reload immediately but also to continue to build toward the future development of this program.”
Bell took over the Panthers prior to the 2019 season. In his first two seasons, the Panthers went 8-25 in Atlantic Coast Conference play. Last spring, the team showed significant improvement with a 16-17 effort in conference games.