Justin Solt’s career path is in economics, but he also could consider becoming a juggler.
His seamless way of keeping the balls of his 4.0 GPA, classwork and pitching for Lower Columbia College in the air makes him a natural.
“It’s tough, but not as tough as people think,” Solt said during a recent LCC baseball practice. “School comes naturally for me, and from the math side things seem to click for me.”
Solt also earned high marks not only in his classwork but his willingness to help his classmates from his LCC calculus instructor, Brad Benjamin.
“Justin is an excellent student and his character is of high quality,” Benjamin said. “He’s one of the first students to pick up on new concepts in class, and helps others in his row when they need it during group work.”
Solt’s ability to be a standout on the field and in the classroom has earned him a scholarship to play baseball at NCAA Division I George Washington University in Washington D.C. Notable alumni of GWU include former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, four-star general Colin Powell, actors Alec Baldwin and Eliza Dushku, and former Boston Celtics executive Red Auerbach.
“After pitching in the fall Sophomore Showcase, I had four schools interested in me,” Solt said. “George Washington was the first to offer me a visit. I went there and connected with the coaches.”
Solt returned home and talked with the other schools. When the coaches at George Washington heard of Solt’s discussions with the other schools, they increased their offer.
“At that point it put me over the edge,” he said. “They’re a top 50 school, and the academic piece they offered is incredible. I take pride in my academics.”
The Colonials don’t usually recruit junior college transfers, but they made an exception with Solt.
“Their pitching staff is mostly upperclassmen, and they’re expecting big things from me as a starter next season,” he said. “If I can go there and prove myself, that’s great.”
Solt was a starter last season with the Red Devils before he was moved to the bullpen for the NWAC Championships. He earned the save in the title game when LCC beat Yakima Valley 7-5.
“As the year went on, he got better which is a testament to his hard work,” LCC coach Eric Lane said. “At the end of the season, we felt Justin was a guy with the mentality to come out of the bullpen and challenge guys. We trusted him in that role, and he was a reason why we won it last year.”
Moving to the bullpen was new to Solt, who was always a starter.
“It was fun for me to come in, throw the ball hard and shut the door on a team that didn’t know much about me,” he said. “I also got to pitch against some of my friends from Spokane earlier in the tournament, and that was fun.”
After Solt got the final out in the championship game, he got a surprise from his catcher, JT Strickler.
“I didn’t know this, but he told our teammates he was going to tackle me after the game,” he said. “I saw him coming and jumped up to hug him, but he went low and tackled me. I got a cut above my eye, but it was worth it.”
Lane has been impressed with Solt’s leadership with his teammates.
“Justin’s attitude is one of the best I’ve been around as a coach,” he said. “The way he attacks the day whether it’s in the weight room or in a game, he pulls guys along with him. He knows what he’s doing every day, and how to attack it in every aspect.”
Throughout his baseball career, Solt’s biggest influence has been his father, who also steered him into his career path.
“Since I was a kid he always drove me to practice,” he said. “His motivation kept me on the path to be the best I can be. I didn’t get an opportunity. He told me to go to a CC and put in hard work, and I could realize my dreams.”