Jared Southard always wanted to wear burnt orange.
Thursday afternoon, his dream came true.
The Rouse senior baseball player was one of six athletes to commit to playing at the next level. MacKenzie Huntley will play volleyball at Seton Hall, Bailey Vannoy will play softball at Charlotte, Delaney Carrell will play soccer at UT-RGV, Connor Bennett will play baseball at Western Texas College and Sydney Sheehan will play soccer at Oklahoma.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to sing for the school I grew up wanting to go to,” Southard said. “It’s a crazy feeling. When the opportunity came, I had to go for it. I’m going to make the most of it and I can’t wait to get on campus.”
Southard started off as a catcher and was playing that position at camps before he got to high school. The summer going into his sophomore year, he got on the mound, became a pitcher and started going to more University of Texas camps.
He has lettered in every season with the Raiders and was named a first-team All-District pitcher after his junior and senior seasons. He’s caught, pitched and played first base at Rouse. Southard plays club ball with Houston Banditos and represented Texas at the States Play Tournament hosted by the Texas Rangers.
“When I think of Jared, power right-hander comes to mind,” Texas baseball coach David Pierce told the Longhorns’ official website. “He looks the part and his arm is explosive. He continues to work hard to be the best he can be. Jared's ceiling is tremendously high and he has a chance to reach it because he is a grinder.”
The first day of practice for high school baseball teams across the state is Jan. 25 and the first day for official games is in early February.
Southard has been part of a Rouse team that has made a massive turnaround in the last two seasons. After finishing without a district win in 2016, the Raiders won the district title outright in 2017 and finished second last season.
“Winning is always going to be a good thing and I hate to lose more than I like to win,” Southard said. “I want to give my team the best opportunity to win, and this season isn’t about me, it’s about the team. I’m excited to see what’s in store.”
Southard said that winning has helped him get better in addition to the plethora of people he’s had help him along the way.
“Playing under Coach Krempin has been great,” he said. “He’s taught me how to win and how to play the game. Ray DeLeon from Banditos really helped me get seen and always put me out there to perform at the best level I can. Quite a few other coaches helped me and it’s been really exciting.”