By Joe Macias
Senior infielder and pitcher Max Carter’s performance is fueled by inspiration from his older brother and support from the people around him.
Carter attributes his success to his older brother, Mitch Carter, who worked with Max and molded his game throughout his years of playing baseball.
“My brother, obviously he’s a big role model,” said Carter. “My brother, he was a big stickler on me getting extra work in. He’d stay after practice, or would go home and hit me ground balls, or my parents would hit me ground balls. It was just something where everyone around me knew I was really into baseball, and they tried to do everything they could to make me better and keep me playing.”
As the younger brother, Carter had to earn help through some tough situations.
“I just remember he was really hard on me,” said Carter. “He didn’t want me to play with him, so I would always have to try to be super tough, even though I didn’t want to. I’d have to get hit by the baseball and (let) it not bother me. I just remember having to toughen everything out, and that was really hard to do.”
Earning that help allowed Carter to improve his game.
He realized that he wanted to prolong his career and make the most out of it.
“He was harder on me than he was on himself.” said Carter “I definitely wouldn’t be the player I am today without him.”
Carter also said that his parents made sure that he had an education in addition to baseball. He maintained that he would not be able to play unless his homework was done and he received good grades.
“(My parents) were always really supportive of me, and talking to me and keeping my head up when I had bad days,” said Carter. “They were just there for me when I needed extra reps or anything I needed, they were there.”
As a product of Bakersfield and a Stockdale High School graduate, this city is all that Carter has ever known and loved when it comes to baseball.
However, an issue that Carter faced in high school was gaining recognition.
Carter was supposed to attend Bakersfield High School, but a move caused him to attend Stockdale.
“No one really knew me, and it was kind of difficult for me to go out and play,” said Carter. “It was difficult to get my name out there, and it was really frustrating.”
In his sophomore year of high school, Carter showed his skills in front of coaches to get over his frustrations and emerge as a starter on the team.
Only one starting position was left, and all the players lined up to show them what they could do. Carter didn’t see any point in trying out for the third base position, so he practiced away from the team, which got some attention from the coaches.
“(The coaches) ended up watching that, and they saw me working with the shortstop, and they liked that,” said Carter. “It got my name out there for them. I guess they just like seeing people work.
It was nice when the coach actually came up to me and told me he saw me, and I didn’t even know he was paying attention to me.”
Carter earned the starting shortstop position on the varsity team, which surprised him since the team already had the position filled.
Securing a position on the varsity team allowed Carter to play with his brother in high school, who was a senior at the time.
Making the decision to come to CSUB was a no brainer for Carter. He wanted that chance to play in front of his friends and family.
“It’s just getting to play at home. Getting to have my family come,” said Carter. “I didn’t apply anywhere else. This is the only place I wanted to go to and I couldn’t be happier being here.”
During his career at CSUB, Carter noted that there were also some barriers that he had to overcome within himself and past coaching staff.
“I was feeling stressed out,” said Carter. “I was feeling like people didn’t like me as a player. It made me a stronger player. It made me a better player. It’s something that I think every player goes through where they start doubting themselves and asking themselves ‘why are they really playing?’”
Carter also said that there was a former coach that made him doubt himself and who was particularly hard on him, but that he is no longer on the coaching staff.
Entering his fourth year at CSUB, Carter has been able to form relationships on and off the field with teammates.
Senior infielder David Metzgar sees Carter not only as a teammate, but as a brother.
“I’ve just grown so close to him,” said Metzgar. “I could tell him anything. He could tell me anything and we’re just comfortable around each other. He’s a great guy.”
Metzgar also talked about Carter’s versatility on the field and his ability to swing the bat, cover the bases and dominate on the mound as well.
“Max is a all-around player,” said Metzgar. “He can pitch. He can hit. He can field. I guess he’s just a normal common athlete that does it all. I’ve been with Max for four years, and I’ve seen him do it all. He’s special.”
In Carter’s freshman year, he had a .267 batting average, two home runs, 25 runs batted in, and a 4.66 earned run average as a pitcher.
In his sophomore year, Carter was second on the team with a .327 batting average and 3.90 ERA.
In his junior year, Carter regressed to a .286 batting average and 7.47 ERA.
This year, so far, Carter has rebounded to a career best .347 batting average and team best 2.34 ERA.
Carter also has a 6-1 record on the season for the Roadrunners and 44 strikeouts on the season, which is the already the most he has had in any season with 18 games left this year.
CSUB interim head coach Jeremy Beard said that Carter’s versatility makes him very important to the team.
“I think Max is a very skilled player in a lot of different areas,” said Beard. “He has a high baseball IQ. He doesn’t hit with a lot of power, but he gets a lot of hits. His ability to throw multiple pitches for a strikes just makes him very valuable. You never know what’s coming with him.”