Chris Hart, a three-time all-state baseball performer for the Carlisle Bison, is taking his game to the collegiate level after signing with Arkansas Baptist College during a ceremony Monday at the Carlisle Civic Center.
Arkansas Baptist is a junior college in Little Rock.
Hart said he was originally going to college at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville to work on a degree but was contacted by Arkansas Baptist recruiting coordinator Zac Bottoms two weeks prior to the Central Arkansas All-Star Games at UALR in late May.
"But after a school visit and scholarship money got involved, I changed my mind," Hart said. "The all-star game was great for me. I knew after I played in it, I could play with the top players in the state and Coach Bottoms made a strong push on me to sign with them there."
Hart, who will play shortstop for the Buffaloes, said he was getting interest from UALR, Memphis and smaller schools in the area but the prospect camps are during football season.
"I wasn’t able to go because on Friday nights, I was playing football and on Saturdays, I was normally pretty sore so I just kind of messed myself up with those schools but I think they will come back around after a couple of years at Arkansas Baptist."
Hart, who also played football and basketball, said baseball is his first love.
"I was just a natural at the sport from the beginning, obviously with great coaching when I started," he said. "The whole sport just seems to come naturally."
Hart said his goal is to play Division I baseball and going to Arkansas Baptist isn’t going to change that.
"Going to Baptist is what I hope helps me get that Division I scholarship," Hart said.
Former Carlisle coach and current Heber Springs coach B.J. Greene coached Hart for three years and says that this is a big opportunity for his former all-state player.
"Arkansas Baptist is in a great conference … there are a bunch of good junior college schools there," Greene said. "When you go to watch those teams there, there are 10-15 Division I scouts and pro scouts at those games. Chris is going to get exposed to something he never could have hoped for."
Greene said he thought playing at a smaller school right now for Hart would be beneficial instead of sitting on the bench at a four-year school.
"Right now at Arkansas Baptist, he’s going in right away and playing," Greene said. "I talked to Coach Bottoms and Chris is going to play right away. Chris has enough talent to help them. Coach Bottoms also did a great job of going out and recruiting. Chris is not only going to play in front of a lot of scouts but he’s going to be on a good team. They are doing it the right way."
Hart is thankful for this opportunity.
"I would like to thank God and everybody who has supported me and I hope they keep supporting me," he said.