Locals hitting college baseball diamond

Published 12:01am Sunday, February 24, 2013

Seeing Jake Brumfield take the mound in the Miss-Lou Feb. 9 brought back some good memories of watching him pitch for Adams County Christian School.

The Pearl River Community College starter was a major attraction when Pearl River played Baton Rouge Community College in a doubleheader to kick off the opening of the new Concordia Parish Recreation District 3 complex.

Brumfield’s performance was reminiscent of what Rebel fans grew accustomed to during his senior season at ACCS. He went five innings, yielding no runs on four hits with two strikeouts and three walks.

If you’re a fan of good pitching, Brumfield was always a pleasure to watch whenever he took the mound at ACCS. His senior year was especially dominating, when he put up a 0.40 ERA and tallied 90 strikeouts, earning him All-Metro player of the year honors from The Natchez Democrat.

Seeing Brumfield take the mound for a junior college was no surprise, nor was it a surprise to see him pick up right where he left off in high school. With baseball season under way at the collegiate level, Brumfield was one of several Miss-Lou natives to have their college debuts in the last few weeks.

Cathedral High School alumnus Caleb Upton got the start at catcher on Hinds Community College’s opening day Feb. 15. Hinds faced East Central Community College and Southeastern Iowa in a doubleheader that day, and Upton did quite well for himself.

After going 3-for-4 with a double and triple in Game 1, Upton was 1-for-2 with a double in the second game. When I spoke to him after the doubleheader, I jokingly told him I heard he had a horrible day at the plate, but one thing Upton stressed was not letting a strong start go to his head.

“Even on your good days, your next day could be bad,” Upton said.

Centreville Academy alumnus Hunter Devall grew up wanting to play baseball for LSU, and on Tuesday night, he earned his first win for the Tigers. Devall came in relief of starter Cody Glenn against Lamar University, pitching 1 1/3 innings and giving up no runs on no hits with zero strikeouts.

Devall is looking to help round out the Tigers’ bullpen this spring, and the southpaw is no stranger to coming into big games as a relief pitcher. When Centreville needed shut down Simpson Academy in Game 3 of their state championship matchup in 2011, Devall was the one head coach Jason Horne brought in. And Devall didn’t disappoint, pitching three scoreless innings to secure a 4-3 win. As he adjusts to college batters, something tells me Devall should grow into that role quite nicely.

And who could forget Trinity Episcopal alumnus Jake Winston? Winston got his first college start against Alabama this past Tuesday? Winston gave up three runs, one earned, in four innings while recording six strikeouts. His performance came just a week and two days after a monster tornado ripped through Hattiesburg, bringing heavy damage to the area.

Winston said after the tornado came through that he and his teammates wanted to make baseball serve its role as America’s pastime to the citizens of Hattiesburg that are working cleanup in the city.

“We want people to come out to ball games and see a great game every time they come out,” Winston said. “It can kind of take your mind off what happened.”

If Winston can continue striking out batters at the rate he did in high school — he struck out 102 as a junior and 74 as a senior — then he should have a big hand in helping getting residents’ minds off the storm damage.

It’s always good to see former Miss-Lou athletes excelling at the next level. To have several doing that in baseball is a nice reflection of the talent that local baseball fans were blessed with the past several seasons.