Getting an education while continuing to play the sport he loved was of utmost importance for recent Waverly High School graduate Tucker Tackett.
Now Tackett will have that opportunity after a recent signing with the University of Rio Grande where he looks to continue playing baseball while earning his degree.
Tackett, a left-handed relief pitcher and first baseman for the Waverly Tigers, is looking forward to going to the next level.
“This opportunity is amazing to me. I’ve worked my whole life to get to this spot. My dad (Tim Tackett) has worked with me, and we’ve worked forever on this,” said Tackett. “I can’t wait to get over there and show them what I’ve got and be a part of a great program. They’ve won 40 games the last couple of years and there’s really no other place I would rather go to college besides Rio Grande.”
“We see Tucker as a dual role guy for us,” said University of Rio Grande Head Baseball Coach Brad Warnimont. “We are going to try and work him on the mound as well as first base. Obviously, his bat will be a plus for us offensively. He also has a very good glove at first base. We have senior first baseman this (upcoming) year. Hopefully, Tucker can work into that spot some and get his feet wet. We also want to work him on the mound. In the high school season, there isn’t much time to work on pitching. We really want to utilize his talents on the mound.”
According to Warnimont, Tackett was one of just three signees so far for the RedStorm, who just won the River States Conference tournament and ended their season at 39-21 after getting into the NAIA National Tournament.
“We have another left-handed pitcher joining from Gallia Academy. We are excited about the incoming class. We are trying to reel in players and finalize things,” said Warnimont.
The senior first baseman Tackett will be learning under is Eli Daniels, a Minford High School graduate, who also played for the Waverly Post 142 Shockers. Waverly graduate Pierce Knisley just finished his senior season with the Rio Grande RedStorm, having 75 innings on the hill with 64 strikeouts. Another Waverly graduate, Ryan Roberston, also had success with the RedStorm a handful of years ago.
“I have a lot of local kids who are doing very well. In Southeast Ohio, we want to corner the market as long as we can continue stockpiling the local guys,” said Warnimont.
“They just have to get adjusted to the speed of the college game. It is a little different. When you face 85 to 88 on a daily basis, there is an adjustment phase. Once they acclimate to that, the game slows back down for them.”
Tackett is looking forward to progressing and growing while learning everything he can.
“I will be sharing an apartment with (baseball) guys from Minford and Oak Hill, which is amazing to me. I like those guys. They come from good high school programs just like Waverly,” said Tackett. “Nob (Waverly Head Coach Jeff Noble) has helped me the last four years. I think that will help me going to Rio to work with Coach Warnimont. I’m so excited for this opportunity.”
In his senior season from the plate for the Tigers, Tackett finished with a batting average of .405. He had 92 plate appearances and 79 at-bats in 25 games. In those 25 games, Tackett produced 32 hits, including seven doubles and one home run. He generated 35 RBIs for the Tigers and scored 17 runs. Tackett finished with an on-base percentage of .467 and a slugging average of .532.
“My best memory from Waverly (baseball) came in my senior year when I hit that home run against Washington Court House. Also in my freshman year when we went to regionals, that was one of the best memories I have. Going on tournament runs is one of the best things. I wish we could have beat Marietta (in the sectional tournament) and went further (in 2019),” said Tackett.
“I really feel like I had a heck of a senior year. I just want to take that over to Rio. I know they have a senior first baseman. It is fine with me to work myself in there. I hope I get to play and help them win. I want to go and get my degree and maybe move on to play baseball after college. I will keep working, stay in the weight room and get bigger and stronger. That’s my goal — the next level of baseball.”
As a relief pitcher for the Tigers, Tackett finished the season (3-0) with an earned run average of 1.75. He pitched eight innings spread between four games. He allowed three runs (only two earned) and five hits, recording 11 strikeouts while walking eight.
“Tucker had a very good senior season. He has worked very hard. We are very excited that he gets the opportunity to continue his athletics and academics at Rio Grande,” said Noble.
“Even though he had a great senior season, we feel he is a late bloomer. There’s a lot left in the tank. He’s going to get bigger and stronger. He will work on baseball year round and has a high ceiling for improvement. Coach Warnimont will do a great job with him down there. They get to play 50 baseball games. At the end of the day, he and his family felt it would be a good fit. It is far enough away that he’s away from home, but if he needs to come home, it isn’t too far. His parents get to watch him, which is another plus. It is a very good program. It is a good fit. We’re excited. Tucker is very deserving of the opportunity. We will will continue to support him and wish him well.”