Staff Photo: Jason Braverman
Parkview's Matt Olson, left, and Providence Christian's Christian Stewart are the Daily Post Co-Players of the Year. They both led their respective teams to the state baseball finals.
The high school baseball Class of 2012 figures to be a highly decorated one, and one of its brightest stars has made a decision on his future.
Daily Post Co-Player of the Year Christin Stewart of Providence Christian Academy gave his verbal commitment to attend the University of Tennessee after visiting the school's Knoxville, Tenn., campus last weekend.
He became the second member of what figures to be a large number of Division I signees among the rising senior class, joining Brookwood pitcher/infielder Lucas Sims, who committed to Clemson earlier this summer.
He is also the second member of Providence's senior class to commit after Austin Loyd committed to Mercer a few weeks earlier.
"I love the new coaching staff (led by Dave Serrano, who was named the Volunteers' new coach June 15), and it was a good fit for me personally," said Stewart of his decision of Tennessee over several other offers, including Virginia Tech and Mercer. "I loved the campus and the facilities are really nice."
The 6-foot, 195-pound catcher/designated hitter put up historic numbers in helping the Stars to their first appearance in the Class A state title series before finishing as runner-up to champion and Gwinnett rival Hebron Christian as a junior this past spring.
Stewart finished the season with 26 home runs, breaking Micah Owings' 9-year-old Georgia single-season record, as well as the Gwinnett County record of 23 set last year by Kevin O'Leary, and set a new county mark with 70 RBIs.
In addition, he led all county players with 65 runs scored and finished in the top 10 in batting average (third, .500) and stolen bases (tied for ninth, 13).
Stewart is the latest in a string of Gwinnett players to choose Tennessee in recent years, including current Vols Drew Steckenrider (GAC) and Nick Blount (South Gwinnett).
"I liked that," Stewart said. "Knowing that there are some kids from Georgia up there, that's a plus."
He is also the second straight Daily Post Player of the Year to commit to the Vols, though whether he actually makes it to Knoxville or follows the path of North Gwinnett's Chris Hawkins -- who started his professional career after being selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the third round of the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft -- remains to be seen.
"I'm not thinking about the draft right now," Stewart said. "I'm just focusing on playing baseball and getting better."