University of Houston-Victoria student Austin Kent recently topped his first season with the Jaguars baseball team by being named the Most Outstanding Player at the Association of Independent Institutions Conference Baseball Tournament in Jackson, Tenn.
Kent, who is from Austin, has played baseball since he was 4. He was recognized with the top award at the A.I.I. tournament on May 8. Chosen by officials and team coaches, Kent led the tournament in runs scored, slugging percentage and home runs while helping UHV win its second consecutive A.I.I. championship.
“It felt great especially because we had just won a hard-fought championship game against Lambuth University,” he said. “We really pulled off a last-minute victory, and it feels good to be noticed for your accomplishments.”
There’s no doubt Kent helped secure the victory for UHV, but at one time, it seemed this athlete was destined for another sport.
“I’ve played baseball my whole life, but when I was in high school, I really wanted to play college football,” he said. “I got hurt playing football my senior year and decided baseball was a smarter choice.”
He couldn’t have been more right. Kent seemed to be a natural, and offers from schools started pouring in. This past fall, he transferred from Wharton County Junior College after a visit with UHV head baseball coach Terry Puhl.
“A lot of my friends were talking about UHV,” he said. “I knew the Jaguars had come off a great season, so I decided to try out. After talking to Coach Puhl, I knew it was a good fit. I liked everything UHV had to offer.”
With one season under his belt, Kent doesn’t regret the choice. He said the team had to overcome a lot of adversity this season to win the A.I.I. championship, but it was worth it. The Jaguars finished the year by competing in the opening round of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Baseball Championship.
“We have a lot of different personalities on the team, but we’re all on the same page, and there’s never a dull moment,” he said. “We’re all really good friends. My first season as a Jaguar was very exciting.”
Kent wants to play baseball as long as he can.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the majors,” he said. “You have to put up good numbers. When the scouts come to the games, you have to show that you’re prepared to perform at a high level. If you can do that, they may pick you up in the draft. That’s my dream.”
Kent, a psychology major, will graduate next spring and said he’s looking forward to one more year of UHV baseball and getting his degree before pursuing the sport professionally.
The UHV Outstanding Student is an online feature highlighting the exceptional students who attend the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a student, contact UHV Communications Manager Paula Cobler or call 361-570-4350.