Big Spring senior Braden Petty is approaching his final baseball season this spring with a new focus: “playing more loose.”
It is largely a concerted effort to change old habits of playing tight with self-inflicted pressure. He wants to have fun in his final season with the Bulldogs and do all the little things right without overthinking.
“My sophomore year we won our division and earned a top seed going into districts only to bow out in the second round,” he said last week via text. “That’s never sat well with me and I plan on using this off-season to focus on doing what I can to get myself and my team ready to hopefully get back to the playoffs and hopefully farther than we’ve ever gone.”
But there might be a part of him in time that plays a little more carefree because his future is set.
Petty announced his commitment to Shippensburg University on Oct. 29, following in the footsteps of big brother Jaret, a 2017 Big Spring grad. He will have the opportunity to earn an athletic scholarship his sophomore year.
The announcement ended a summer-long recruiting process that SU jumped in on shortly after the Big 26 Classic in July. Along with the Raiders, Petty also was courted by Washington College, Penn State-Harrisburg and Ohio University.
“Coach [Matt] Jones was [at Big 26] and was pretty happy with the workout he watched,” Petty said. “Then when school started, the coaches reached out to me asking when I could come for a visit and eventually I was able to find a day to go. As soon as I got done officially meeting the coaching staff and touring the campus, I knew that that was where I wanted to go.”
He said he plans to major in computer science to focus on programming, much like his uncle. That was a key factor in his decision.
“They have a super competitive baseball program, with a great coaching staff,” he said. “My brother played there his freshman year and had a great experience which was really helpful for me to see. It’s very important to me that I remain close to my family, my friends and my church [The Meeting House].”
Jaret Petty, though, is seeking a transfer to Penn State-Mont Alto, Braden said, to focus on his nursing degree. It will end his college career after one year.
A first baseman, Braden Petty hit .269 in 57 plate appearances with nine runs and 12 RBIs in the spring while the Bulldogs finished 8-12. He was a Mid-Penn Colonial Honorable Mention.
He’ll join a Raiders roster that routinely dips into the Cumberland County scene. Camp Hill’s Matt Ketterer and Michael Hope, East Pennsboro’s Chris Horst and Shippensburg High School’s Colton Zeigler are all on the roster. They went 28-24 last season and made the PSAC tournament under 12th-year head coach Jones.