Journette stands out at NSU

Fred Jeter | 4/18/2024, 6 p.m.
Only one college offered Justin Journette a baseball scholarship while he was in high school. As it turned out, that ...
Justin Journette

Only one college offered Justin Journette a baseball scholarship while he was in high school.

As it turned out, that one was enough.

It’s clear now. Norfolk State Coach Keith Shumate spotted something in the young man that others didn’t.

“From Day One, I thought Justin could be an incredible slugger on our level,” Coach Shumate said. “It’s been a pleasure to coach him and watch him improve.”

A 2022 graduate of Hermitage High, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound leftfielder began this week as the nation’s home run leader among HBCU players.

Through 30 games, Journette’s nine homers were more than any HBCU player in the Northeast Conference, including MEAC schools, the New South Atlantic (CIAA schools), SWAC or SIAC.

Hitting third in Coach Shumate’s order, Journette launched his ninth four-bagger on April 9 against Longwood.

He also leads the team with 31 runs batted in to go with a .325 average.

A year ago, as a true freshman, he hit .254 with eight homers and 27 RBI in 49 games.

“Justin’s hands are so fast they are electric,” Coach Shumate said. “He’s also got a better-than-average arm for a leftfielder and he runs well for a big guy.”

Coach Shumate

Coach Shumate

Journette had a solid but unspectacular career at Hermitage. The offers weren’t flowing in.

“I felt like I was a little overlooked (in high school),” he said. “So, I kind of recruited myself by going to the Norfolk State camp. Coach Shumate gave me an offer and I accepted on the spot.”

The Spartans’ veteran coach agreed with that story while adding, “I did know about him before and was happy when I heard he was coming to our camp.”

Journette grew up playing baseball in the Lakeside Little League, where he was an All- Star; he played with several summer travel teams.

He recalls hitting “about eight homers” during his entire Hermitage career, but nothing in the way of All-District or All-Region accolades.

Journette said he hopes to finish this season strong and then suit up for the Winchester Royals of the wooden-bat Valley League this summer.

The well-established Valley League is governed by Major League Baseball, so there is plenty of scouting exposure.

“At the least, Justin will continue to be a very good college player,” Coach Shumate said.

“At best, he’ll be playing in the big leagues someday.”