NEW PALESTINE — Jack Walker’s needs as a college baseball pitcher are pretty simple.

He wants a chance to pitch.

Unfortunately for the former all-state lanky, left-hander from New Palestine — a former Hancock County Player of the Year – that opportunity didn’t happen at Indiana University.

Earlier this summer, Walker announced he was entering the transfer portal. He has since committed to continue his academic and athletic career at Toledo University.

“They were on me from the beginning (once I entered the portal),” Walker said. “They were really high on me and know I have arm talent. They want to put me in the best situation possible to succeed.”

Walker said there are no hard feelings when it comes to his time at IU.

It just didn’t work out.

You could blame it on timing, bad timing.

He was a redshirt freshman in 2020, but the season was wiped out due to COVID-19. Walker and teammates were sent home instead of practicing and playing baseball.

In 2021, again COVID-related, the season was shortened to Big 10 games only.

Adding to Walker’s unfortunate situation, the seniors expected to leave in 2020 were granted an extra year of eligibility. The players that Walker and other freshmen were going to replace didn’t leave. With an all-conference games schedule, those big-game innings were going to the veteran pitchers.

In that second season, Walker had a couple injury issues. In all, he pitched one inning. He struck out two and walked two in one frame against Minnesota.

Healthy in 2022, Walker still didn’t get a lot of chances to throw. He pitched 19 innings.

“It was just an unfortunate situation,” Walker said. “We talked about it and came to an agreement that it would be better to further my career somewhere else. There was no bad blood, just an unfortunate situation.”

“It isn’t fair, but life’s not fair. That’s the way it was with a lot of other guys. I think we had around 10 or more in the portal from this year.”

Walker has been told he will get innings opportunities with the Rockets.

“They’re looking at me as a potential conference weekend starter,” he said. “That’s what I want to do. They believe in me and they said I will have every opportunity to do that. They think I can be a “dude” with a tweak here, a tweak there.”

Coming out of New Palestine, Walker was the state’s No. 5 overall prospect and No. 2 left-handed pitcher in 2019, according to Perfect Game. He was the Dragons MVP in both his junior and senior seasons.

A three-time All-Hancock County choice, Walker was the county player of the year as a junior. He earned all-state honors his senior season. He was a three-time All-Hoosier Heritage Conference player.

Perfect Game named him second-team All-Central Region. He also garnered high honorable mention Underclass All-America as a junior.

He is hoping four years later and with two years of eligibility remaining, the opportunity to shine will come with the Rockets.

“Coach Rob Reinstetle, the head coach, was open and honest with me and I really appreciated that. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to get significant innings there,” Walker said.

“I’m eager and excited to get on campus and prove myself and prove what I can do,” he added. “They’re high on me and I’m high on them. With my work ethic and determination I think we’re going to make good strides together.”

Even though it didn’t work out in Bloomington, the 6-6, 225-pound lefty has fond memories of his time with the Hoosiers.

“I loved it there. I made a lot of strong connections and strong friendships that I will have for the rest of my life,” he said.

At Toledo, he will be doing some reuniting with an old friend.

They won’t be on the same team, but they’ll be at the same school.

Walker will be back with New Palestine friend Maxen Hook, who plays for the Rockets football team. Walker and Hook were teammates on the Dragons basketball team.

“Maxen’s my guy,” Walker said. “We really had a good time with (New Palestine basketball) coach (Trent) Whitaker. Those are some of my favorite high school memories. I’m excited to link back up with him and he can show me the ins and outs of Toledo.”

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