A former Northeast Mississippi Community College standout wrapped up his career on the diamond with an appearance on the grandest stage of collegiate baseball.
Former Tiger infielder Josh Peterson concluded his senior campaign at the University of North Georgia by capturing a berth to the NCAA Division II College World Series.
“It’s a surreal feeling,” said Peterson. “After our first meeting last August, coach (Tom Cantrell) said this is a good team and a championship level team. It was one of the greatest feelings to realize that after all the hard work, practices, blood, sweat and tears that we finally achieved our goal.
“This team was a special group of guys and I love them all. We had a lot of very talented ball players. It boiled down to how close we were and how much we trusted each other. To go out to Texas with them was just amazing.”
Peterson and the Nighthawks had a special year overall that included a Peach Belt Conference (PBC) regular season championship and the inaugural No. 1 national ranking in program history.
North Georgia reached the semifinal round of the PBC Tournament before receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional hosted by Mount Olive (N.C.) University.
Peterson’s Nighthawks went undefeated through the regional competition and defeated Catawba (N.C.) College by a 5-4 margin in the title matchup to advance to their first-ever NCAA Division II championship round.
North Georgia completed its historic campaign with setbacks to West Chester (Pa.) University and Delta State University at the NCAA Division II College World Series, which was held at AirHogs Stadium in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Peterson compiled a .333 batting average during his final season at the Dahlonega, Ga., based school. He added four doubles, one triple, one home run and nine RBIs for the Nighthawks.
The 6-4, 220-pound left-hander served primarily as a designated hitter for North Georgia. Peterson also saw action at first base on occasion, especially during his junior year.
He was a career .261 hitter for the Nighthawks with a .393 on-base percentage as well. Peterson earned several honors at North Georgia, including the Division 2 Athletics Directors Association (D2ADA) Academic Achievement Award and recognition as a PBC Presidential Scholar.
“I enjoyed it and soaked it all in,” Peterson said. “I felt like a big leaguer. That’s the way they treated you out there. These are the times that I’ll look back on when I’m older. This was an amazing experience and I was truly blessed to be a part of it.”
The trip to the Lone Star State with the Nighthawks was the culmination of a fantastic adventure around the country for Peterson that centered around the sport of baseball.
Peterson was an exceptional athlete at Ralston Valley (Colo.) High School and earned second-team all-conference accolades from the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSSA).
Northeast headman Richy Harrelson, who was then an assistant coach under current athletic director Kent Farris, saw Peterson compete at the Keith Hagan Memorial All-American Classic in Memphis, Tenn., and recruited him to Booneville.
“He’s just a great all-around kid,” said Harrelson. “He worked hard at practice and extremely hard in the weight room. He’s going to be extremely successful in whatever he wants to do because of the way he handles his business.”
Peterson compiled a .234 batting average over two years with the Tigers. He also tallied eight doubles, two home runs, 24 RBIs and 21 runs scored during his tenure in the City of Hospitality.
The Arvada, Colo., native garnered the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Award for Exemplary Academic Achievement after his sophomore season at Northeast for accumulating a 3.68 grade point average (GPA).
Peterson was also a Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) Academic All-State selection. He helped the Tigers reach the playoffs and host the MACJC State Tournament as a freshman.
“I’m very blessed to have had the journey that I had,” Peterson said. “The opportunity that Northeast gave me to come and play was awesome. I’m definitely indebted to them and I love that program.
“Coming out to Georgia really rounded everything off. I’ve met a lot of great people and made a lot of great friends that I’m going to be close with hopefully for a long time to come. It’s just been a dream come true.”
CUTLINES (PHOTOS: Michael H. Miller/Northeast Public Information)
Josh Peterson prepares for a pitch during Northeast Mississippi Community College’s game against East Central Community College on February 14, 2015. Peterson recently concluded his collegiate career by helping the University of North Georgia advance to the NCAA Division II College World Series.
Head shot of Josh Peterson, who recently completed his baseball career at the University of North Georgia.