LUMBERTON — As A.J. Brooks and Daniel Carter signed Thursday to continue their baseball careers at Southeastern Community College this fall, each player was thinking ahead.
“My main goal is to get some more looks from some bigger schools, get bigger and stronger, then go to a Division I or Division II school,” said Brooks, a four-year player for the Pirates.
Carter agreed: “I want to do better so I can move on to a bigger school.”
But first the Pirates duo will take on Whiteville, joining a Rams program that went 11-31 last season and features several Robeson County players, including Purnell Swett’s Bladen Strickland. Strickland signed with Southeastern on Wednesday.
“These are two outstanding young men that have put in the work for four years in the classroom and on the field,” said Lumberton coach Jeff McLamb. “They’ll be two that are really missed, that’s for sure.
“Both of them are going to play a big role, I think. It should help out that program big time.”
Brooks and Carter had quite the connection during their time on the diamond at Lumberton, with Brooks spending much of his time behind the plate while Carter was on the mound.
Brooks said he expects to be a middle infielder or catcher for the Rams next season. Carter will be pitching and is likely to spend some time at first base.
“Hopefully it’ll go well,” said Brooks, who finished his senior campaign with a .303 batting average, 20 hits and eight RBIs.
For Carter, who batted at a clip of .294 and finished with a 2.61 ERA in his last two seasons with the Pirates, the work is just beginning.
“It’s going to be a lot more practicing and pitching,” he said. “It’s a dream.”
But even as they prepare to leave their maroon jerseys behind, both players said they’ll never forget their time as Pirates.
“I’ve played varsity for four years and I love the coaching staff,” Brooks said. “They were fun to be around. The games were fun. I love Lumberton.”
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.