As you’re reading this, Carter Booth is probably in the batting cage, running sprints, playing long toss, lifting weights or doing something else to make himself a better baseball player.
Booth, a 6-foot, 190-pound senior center fielder for the Jackson Timberwolves, is one of the most talented high school players in the state — but that’s not enough for him.
“He’s a competitor,” said Timberwolves senior first baseman Addison Beckmann, a childhood friend, training partner and neighbor. “He wants to go to the gym everyday, and I want a day off every once in a while. He doesn’t let me take a day off. He pushes me every single day.”
That’s the type of work ethic that has Booth, a first-team All-Wesco selection in 2017, headed to Oregon State University in the fall to play for one of the top college baseball programs in the country.
“There’s a reason why it’s called the next level,” Jackson coach Kirk Nicholson said. “It’s because every guy that goes there is like you. You better have a good work ethic before you get there.”
Booth’s work ethic paid off as a freshman. He wasn’t just handed his spot in the starting lineup because of his raw talent. The Timberwolves already had talented upperclassmen he had to beat out.
“He actually got to compete with people,” Nicholson said. “… A lot of guys of his skill don’t have to compete for their spot.”
Even with the accolades and praise he’s received in his baseball career, Booth is still hungry — he wants to help Jackson land a state-tournament berth, which has eluded the program the past three seasons.
“We have a lot of potential with this year’s team, and we just need to find the pieces to the puzzle and then hopefully make a run at state,” Booth said.
Booth’s speed is a big piece of that puzzle.
Nicholson called Booth “incredibly fast” and noted his speed is what got him on the field at the varsity level as a freshman.
That asset was on full display during Jackson’s first game of the season Tuesday night against Inglemoor. Booth hit a hard, low liner that bounced through the infield and rolled to the outfield fence. A ball that hit the ground before leaving the infield ended up being an inside-the-park home run.
“The way he runs the bases is really something to see,” Beckmann said.
While his speed can create problems for opposing defenses, the effect it has on the Timberwolves’ defense is where it may be most valuable.
Booth’s speed allows him to get to balls that elude most high school outfielders.
“It gives (our corner outfielders) confidence to lay out for a ball because he can get behind them,” Beckmann said. “They can hug the line a little bit more and play (their) side, because he can get to anything near him.”
Then there’s his arm, which he put on display Tuesday night as well when he threw out a runner at third from near the center-field fence.
Booth has always been an outfielder, even though Little League teams tend to put their best players at shortstop.
“I didn’t really want to play infield growing up,” Booth said. “I was pretty much made to be an outfielder.”
Booth’s athletic ability and passion for sports comes somewhat naturally. His father, Bob, played football at Sioux Falls College in South Dakota, and Carter Booth said he grew up with a ball in his hands.
Booth plays pickup basketball games regularly in his free time, and played on Jackson’s football team until his sophomore year. He decided to focus on baseball after an injury playing football to his non-throwing shoulder required labrum surgery.
In the summer following his sophomore season, he received a scholarship offer from Oregon State. He also received offers from Seattle University and the University of Oregon. Last season, he hit .487, with nine doubles, three triples, two home runs and 21 RBI.
Next season, he’ll get the opportunity to live out one of his childhood dreams.
“Growing up, (Oregon State) was always the team to beat in the Pac-12, and it’s been my dream school since I was little,” Booth said. “Just getting the chance to play for them next year, it hasn’t really set in yet.”
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