Before even stepping into the team facility, Spencer Jenkins felt right at home at Arizona Christian University.
Jenkins, who led the Centennial High School baseball team in nearly every offensive category during the abbreviated 2020 season, recently visited the Glendale-based NAIA school and was immediately taken with the way coach Joe McDonald and his staff interacted with players.
"(Players) end every conversation with 'love you coach," (and coaches say) 'love you (too),'" Jenkins said. "They have close relationships like that. As soon as I got there, it felt like a place I wanted to be."
If he continues to hit at the torrid pace he did during his junior season with the Golden Hawks, ACU will be equally excited to bring Jenkins' powerful left-handed bat into the fold.
A BVarsity second-team all-area player as a sophomore in 2019, Jenkins came out even stronger last season. When Centennial's season was canceled after just nine games, he was leading the team in batting average (.452), hits (14), RBIs (13) and doubles (five), while also earning MVP honors at the Terrio Spring Classic.
Jenkins' offensive output isn't the only thing the Firestorm found enticing, as they're also planning to work him into their pitching rotation.
After a slow start on the mound, Jenkins started to find his footing as last season went on. He had a career outing on Feb. 21, recording 12 strikeouts in just five innings in a 10-5 win over Independence.
He says getting the chance to make additional strides on the mound further increased his desire to commit to Arizona Christian.
“(Getting to hit and pitch) was a big factor," said Jenkins, who is 4-3 with a 3.72 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 43.2 innings over the last two years. "I really enjoy doing both a lot and I have a skill for both of them, so I wanted to be able to pursue both and having that opportunity was definitely a plus.”
Jenkins, who has also traveled to play in Pathway Baseball tournaments in Arizona this offseason, is hoping for even bigger things during his senior campaign. Unfortunately, it is unknown if he'll even get such a chance, as the entire CIF calendar remains in limbo thanks to COVID-19.
But even if he's forced to go without a senior season, Jenkins believes he'll be physically and mentally prepared to make the jump to the college game, a sentiment shared by his high school coach.
"With his work ethic, his ability to make his teammates better, his demeanor, his positive relationships with teammates, his coachability, (he has) all the intangibles you want," Golden Hawk head coach Danny Durham said. "Things are shaping up in a positive way for him. I know he's very excited and we're excited for him."