Jackson Coutts of the University of Rhode Island races down the first-base line during a 2018 baseball game in Kingstown, R.I. The former Orono High School star has decided to forego his final year of college eligibility to sign a contract with the Washington Nationals. (Michael Scott | University of Rhode Island athletics) Credit: Michael Scott | Rhode Island Ath | Michael Scott http://miscottrunn

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Jackson Coutts got off to a torrid start this spring during his junior season at the University of Rhode Island.

The former Orono High School star was leading the Rams with a .451 batting average, including seven doubles and four home runs. That was in only 13 games.

What might have been a memorable season ended abruptly when the spring college sports season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With some extra time to think about his career and his life, Coutts decided to take a significant step for his future and pursue a professional baseball career.

That dream became a reality on Monday when he signed a free-agent contract with the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals.

Coutts may well have been selected in the major league draft held last week, but Major League Baseball cut the process to only five rounds instead of the usual 40 because of COVID-19.

Coutts is the son of University of Maine softball head coach Mike Coutts and former Black Bears softball coach Lynn Coutts, who is now deputy director of athletics for student-athlete excellence at the University of Denver.

The left-handed batter earned the John Winkin Award as Maine’s Mr. Baseball, the top senior high school player in the state, in 2017.

Coutts capped his coronavirus-shortened career at Rhode Island ranked 14th in Division I in batting average and was ninth in slugging percentage (.824), 11th in hits per game (1.77) and 12th in doubles per game (0.54).

His abbreviated 2020 season included 23 hits, 15 runs scored and 12 runs batted in with a .525 on-base percentage.

Coutts posted a .302 career batting average for the Rams with nine homers, 62 RBIs and 23 doubles in 107 games.

Coutts, who also played football and basketball at Orono, ended his high school baseball career in dramatic fashion. In the 2017 Class C state championship game against Lisbon, Coutts’ leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh inning ignited a four-run rally for a 4-3 victory at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.

Coutts also pitched a four-hitter with 10 strikeouts, a walk and a hit batter.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...