Sanders adds another accolade to his stacked high school resume

Published 11:14 am Friday, June 14, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

For more than five years, one of the most predominant names in Chambers County baseball has been Jackson Sanders. Sanders has been a dominant lefty on Valley’s pitching staff since he was in seventh grade. His time at Valley came to an end as the Rams fell in the semifinals to Mobile Christian, but Sanders added one more accolade on his way out as the Alabama Sports Writers Association named him the 5A Player of the Year. 

Sanders was dominant during his senior season. He posted a 1.84 ERA and struck out 121 batters on the mound. Sanders also led the team at the plate, posting a .516 batting average with 34 RBIs. 

The award means that Sanders went out on top individually, but it’s about more than that for him. While the award is for his individual statistics, he believes that it shows the talent that Sanders had backing him up all season. 

Email newsletter signup

“It’s obviously an individual award, but I kind of view it as a team award because without the team I wouldn’t have been in the position to put up those numbers,” Sanders said. “The defense playing behind me, people getting on base and hitting me in, just all those things contributed to those stats. Coaches put me in a great position to succeed and gave me the infrastructure to succeed, and the community backing up and supporting me, all that helps to win games too.” 

Few careers at Valley High School have matched up to what Sanders has done as a Ram. There is so much for him to look back on and be proud of, but for him, the greatest part of his career was the run the Rams made in 2024. 

Valley fell short of a state championship last season but that does not take away from the historical season the Rams had. The team finished with a 26-7 record and advanced to the semifinals for just the fourth time in school history. 

The Rams were not some dominant powerhouse throughout the season. In fact, most of the games were extremely close. Valley just had a knack for coming through in tight situations, largely due to the bond and chemistry throughout the roster. 

“Years past we didn’t have that, but this year we had that,” Sanders said. “That was really special for not only me but all the seniors that graduated this year.” 

Accolades have never been the goal for Sanders, but they do show how dominant of an athlete he has been. There are several accolades that he could chase in the future. Sanders would like to one day be considered for the Golden Spikes Award at the collegiate level and the CY Young Award is one that every pitcher chases at the professional level. 

“I don’t feel like accolades define me, but that’s a nice thing to tack on,” Sanders said. “I just want to be known as a guy that was dominant.” 

Sanders moves to Auburn University on June 22, and he has already been busy preparing to pack and move all of his belongings. Sanders has been committed to Auburn since he was in eighth grade, but at this point, he still has some decisions to make. 

The MLB Draft will be held starting on July 14. As one of the top high school prospects in the country, Sanders will likely hear his name called at some point. He will then have the choice of going pro and chasing that dream immediately or continuing his development with the Tigers. 

“There’s good in both ways,” Sanders said. “It’s definitely going to be a decision coming in the next couple of weeks. Either way, I know I’ll be supported by family and friends. I’m really not sure what the answer is right now because it can go both ways. A lot can change between then and now. Either way, I think it’ll be a good spot and a good position.” 

Sanders will have a lot of eyes on him whether he goes pro or sticks it out at Auburn. Few baseball players from Chambers County have made it to his level. Sanders knows that he will have a responsibility as a role model moving forward. 

He will be working camps this summer and high school showcases with his teammates at Auburn, and Sanders hopes to start leaving an immediate impact on the communities he is involved in. 

“I always want to be remembered as a baseball player obviously but also who I was as a person,” Sanders said. “I don’t want to be known as a cocky guy who thinks I’m better than everybody because that’s now who I am.” 

“I just want to leave a positive impact on people’s lives,” Sanders said.