UGA-bound Goodwin takes trip down memory lane at Pope Park

Hunter Goodwin prepared to depart for Athens
Hunter Goodwin (Source: WALB)
Hunter Goodwin (Source: WALB)

SYLVESTER, GA (WALB) - Hunter Goodwin is two days from officially beginning his collegiate baseball career.

The Worth County native has the frame, and game to succeed at Georgia.

He made one last trip with loved ones to Pope Park where his dreams of becoming a Diamond Dawg were realized.

"My favorite memory would probably be my 10th grade year," recalled Goodwin. "We were playing (Thomas County Central) in the bottom of the 10th, and I come in to pinch hit and I ended up getting the walk-off hit to win the game."

Goodwin's days of making memories at Pope Park have come to an end.

And it was a stellar senior season. Goodwin struck out 79 batters in 55 innings en route to 8 wins on the mound at Worth County. All while boasting a .76 era.

Now it's on to the University of Georgia to continue playing a game that's consumed him since he was at the little league ranks.

"90 to 95 percent of my life is baseball. If I ain't on the field playing I'm in the backyard throwing the ball or hitting around or something," said Goodwin.

It wasn't always clear Goodwin would be a Division I caliber player.

Today he stands 6 foot 6, but both of his parents are under 6 feet, and neither are former athletes.

But their dedication to his passion is what helped him to a free education.

"The time and effort we spent on the travel ball circuit, it wasn't really free," said his father Marty Goodwin

"Every summer playing ball there were no beach trips, there were no vacations. Our vacation was a trip to a ball park," said his mother Leighan Goodwin.

Another fixture in Goodwin's evolution is Derrick Simon who has coached him through travel ball for the past decade.

"He's helped me in every way and he's made me become the guy that I am," said Hunter.

Simon knows his game better than anyone, and is confident it will translate in Athens.

"He throws 3 pitches: fastball, curve ball, change-up," said Simon. "He can throw it at any time in the count. (He) hits his spots and is tough as nails on the mound."

Goodwin has thrown a perfect game and won a region title at Pope.

That's now history, and his family, friends and fans know his best days are just around the corner.

"It excites me. I'm ready to get up there and get into the workout routines and get better as myself and hopefully be an impact on the team and help the team get even better than they were this year," said Goodwin.

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