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Upton named co-MVP for Hinds CC

JACKSON — Whether he wanted it or not, Cathedral High School alumnus Caleb Upton was thrust into a leadership role for next year’s team with the simple calling of his name.

Upton, who just finished his freshman season as a starting catcher for Hinds Community College, batted. .333 with 12 doubles and a triple. His performance earned him co-MVP honors with sophomore center fielder Akiko Thompson, the team announced during an awards banquet last week.

The selection came as a surprise to Upton, who said he wasn’t even sure he’d get a chance to play regularly at first.

“When I started out in the fall, it didn’t look like I’d play a whole lot,” Upton said. “In the spring, I thought I’d play a little bit, but I didn’t think I’d start every game like I did. Even through the year, I didn’t feel like I was at my best — certainly not to win an award like that.”

Now that he has MVP honors, Upton said he’s happy for the recognition but also realizes the spotlight under which it puts him.

“It’s pretty special, but I also feel a weight of responsibility leading into next year,” he said. “They’re going to look at me as the prior MVP, so that puts me in a leadership role. I think I’m ready for the challenge.”

Hinds finished its season 18-25 overall, and the Eagles struggled mightily on the road, finishing 2-14 at opposing teams’ stadiums.

“Overall, it was disappointing,” Upton said. “We didn’t have a lack of talent, we just couldn’t come together as a team and put things together. It kind of puts some pressure on me, because I felt like a big problem was a lack of leadership.”

And with his desire to serve as a leader next season, Upton said he would try a different approach than some of the leaders from this year’s team.

“This past year, we had some leaders that were more in-your-face types,” Upton said. “I’m guessing I’m looking to be more of an encourager and being more positive than negative. Yes, there’s accountability, but only to a certain point — not to the point where you’re hounding someone.”

Upton also said there are a couple of aspects to his game he wants to see improvements in from his freshman to his sophomore seasons.

“My throwing was really spotty at the end of the year, and I had stretches where my hitting wasn’t as hot,” Upton said. “Working hard throughout the year and bringing energy to every game are two main points to get better at.”

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