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Jackson baseball’s Baden Hackworth signs with SLU

Last month, Jackson senior Baden Hackworth officially signed a national letter of intent with Saint Louis University to continue his baseball career. Pictured in the front row from left: Kim Hackworth (mother), Baden Hackworth and Jerry Hackworth (father). Back row: Jackson coaches Jason Bruns, Josh Roach, Quinton Borders, Jason Chavez, Jeremy Smith and Tatum Kitchen. Photo by Jay Forness

Before he ever played an inning for the Jackson baseball program, Indians senior Baden Hackworth knew he was going to be a Saint Louis Billiken.

This was because Hack-worth had verbally committed to play at SLU after being a Sikeston Bulldog during his first two years of high school baseball.

“[Signing with SLU] is a feeling of relief — there’s been a lot of anxiousness, excitement and nervousness about this day, but it goes with the job,” Baden said. “It’ll be fun.”

The only reason the former Bulldog moved to Jackson was because his father, who works for Liberty Utilities, received a promotion that required him to move north. Fortunately for Hackworth, though, he’s known and played with most of his Jackson teammates since he was nine-years-old.

“[Moving to Jackson] wasn’t really much of a transition at all,” Baden laughed. “It was just like, I went to a school and then I went to a different school. Personally, the chemistry on our team is unmatched — if you asked anyone on our team they’d tell you we have the best chemistry in the state.”

SLU actually discovered Hackworth prior to his sophomore season when he played at Mizzou during the summer with college coaches watching. Baden summed up his experience there by saying, “I performed.”

“I did my job and an offer from SLU is what it got me,” Hackworth said. “All those people that helped me along the way — it was really great to start seeing the hard work pay off.”

Upon his visit to SLU, Hackworth enjoyed that it had a big-campus feel but at the same time that it wasn’t that large of a campus. Baden is also thrilled about going to school in St. Louis so he can attend plenty of Blues and Cardinals games.

Along with that, Hack-worth will be playing for a Billiken’s program that has had 35 players selected in the MLB Draft. The last SLU player to be drafted was in 2019 with two Billikens being selected the year before.

Last spring in his first year at Jackson, Baden primarily started in the outfield for the Indians. Hackworth garnered SEMO All-Conference and Class 6 District 1 All-District honors after recording a .275 batting average with four home runs, 19 hits, 19 runs batted in and 21 stolen bases.

“Every day after school, me, Caden Bogenpohl and a couple of our other buddies go to the batting cages or go lift at Anytime Fitness because why not go to Anytime? You can go there anytime,” Baden laughed. “I’ve been going to a new hitting coach as well, and I’ve been working on a new style of hitting. It’s been helping me a lot — more consistent barrels and stuff like that.”

The new batting style Hackworth has adopted is called the “Snap,” which was created by a man from St. Peters so his sons could become better hitters. Baden said you can notice the style in older player’s swings but also in the swing of Aaron Judge, who recently signed a $360,000,000 contract with the New York Yankees.

“We also do video analysis — Bogenpohl and I did that last Tuesday,” Baden said. “… There’s nothing better than hitting a ball over the fence. Just stepping on home plate and looking at the crowd seeing everybody.”

Defensively, Hackworth had played catcher for a majority of his playing career and will be moving back to the position this spring for his final season at Jackson. He’s looking forward to it after helping the Indians record their seventh consecutive 20-win season one year ago.

“It takes a certain type of person to like catching — it’s always one of those things someone has to do,” Baden said. “My leadership skills come out when I’m playing catcher because you get to see everything that’s going on in the game and what the umpire says. It’s just really fun and easy to see my characteristics fit well in a position like that.”

Growing up, Hackworth said he’s always been on “the better side” when it came to how good he was, but he didn’t realize what his full potential was until he reached high school.

“I wasn’t a super big guy or physically matured yet, I just knew how to play baseball and that was it,” Baden said. “As high school has gone on, obviously I’ve gotten a lot taller and stronger. I feel like certain things have helped me a lot including my summer team.

“This whole summer, I was gone and maybe home for like a week and a half total. It was practice Monday and Tuesday, and we had lifting each day after those practices. That’s what prepared me for what hopefully college will be like.”

Hackworth played travel ball this past summer with the St. Louis Gators, and he described it as “very put in the line.” What Baden means by this is that if someone doesn’t do what they need to, then they won’t play.

“I feel like that has helped me a lot because it’s one of those things like, ‘You have to get this done, Baden, or you’re not going to be good enough,” Hackworth said. “So that’s my mindset going through everything now.”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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