State College baseball: Pitcher Nick Raquet to join national power North Carolina in 2014

Nick Raquet likes to aim high.

It’s hard to aim higher than the Atlantic Coast Conference when it comes to college baseball.

The rising senior at State College recently settled on a college program to continue his playing career, giving an oral commitment to North Carolina.

“I just thought Chapel Hill was home,” Raquet said. “I really loved it. I loved it for the past couple years, and it was awesome when I went down there again.”

Raquet helped the Little Lions win the District 6 Class AAAA title and reach the PIAA quarterfinals this past season, and he played a key role with his work on the mound.

The lefty had a 5-2 record and a team-leading 1.54 ERA. He started eight games, completing four, and his 50 innings was second on the team. He also gave up 32 hits, 14 runs, 11 earned, and 27 walks with 66 strikeouts for the Little Lions (17-7).

He also has been seeing more strong competition playing with his summer travel team, Chandler Baseball out of Altoona. He just returned from games in Georgia last weekend.

It will take some special talent to compete in the ACC and with the Tar Heels, who just finished an impressive season. The team (59-12) set a program record for wins while capturing the conference regular-season and tournament titles and making their 10th appearance in the College World Series. The Heels, who have been in the NCAA tournament the last dozen seasons, have been among the final eight teams remaining in the college season six times in the last eight years.

“I definitely want to play on a team that has great baseball,” said Raquet, who had been talking with head coach Mike Fox and his staff since Raquet was a freshman. “I definitely want to be able to contribute to that too when I get there.”

He also will be heading to a conference with some familiar faces. Teammate Ryan Karstetter has committed to Virginia, former Little Lion Saige Jenco is at Virginia Tech, four teammates from his travel team are heading to new ACC member Pittsburgh and another is bound for Georgia Tech.

“The baseball’s really, really good,” Raquet said. “They’re one of the best, and they all have great schools, and that’s a big thing for me to be able to have a great degree from wherever I graduate.”

He’s unsure what he will study, but it will likely be in business management.

His list of final schools was made entirely of ACC programs, picking North Carolina over North Carolina State, Duke, Virginia and Georgia Tech. He will be getting a partial scholarship from the school.

It also helped sway him that he has relatives in the Raleigh-Durham area, giving him a chance to get away with family now and then.

“It just felt like home,” Raquet said. “I could see myself living there for the next four years.”

After a challenging summer playing better than 20 games with his travel team, he is taking the next month off to rest his arm before playing some fall ball.

Plus, with a little over a month to go before he has to go back to school, a weight has been lifted from his shoulders while most of his classmates have plenty of decisions to make.

“It’s really, really relieving,” Raquet said. “The pressure’s off. I can just enjoy my senior year now and head there next summer.”

He’s also hoping there is a lot of joy next spring for the Little Lions, where there are hopes the baseball season ends with a game on the Penn State campus in a state championship game.

“I’m looking forward to senior year,” Raquet said. “I’m just trying to make the most of it in the fall and winter and then get back out there in the spring. I think we’ve got a decent shot at winning a state title. We have a lot of good guys coming up and getting a lot better. I think we can be really, really good next year and play at Medlar this year.”