Natchez 8th grader leads Bulldogs despite age
NATCHEZ — An eighth grader leadoff batter for a varsity baseball team is far from the norm, but Shavoke Herrington isn’t your everyday high school athlete.
“He’s the unquestioned leader of the team,” said Natchez head baseball coach Brian Kossum in reference to eighth grader Herrington.
Not only is Herrington a leadoff hitter for the Bulldogs, but he also pitches when his team needs him to. Herrington gave up one earned run in the first inning against Cathedral High School Saturday before being pulled. Kossum said his athleticism combined with his age makes him a potential breakout star in the area.
“I think his name is going to get out there,” Kossum said. “If he’s not already, he’s going to be the best player in this town the next couple years. Anytime a scout is at a game, they want to know who he is. I think they get frustrated because he’s 14 years old and theycan’t talk to him because he’s not a senior.”
Kossum said Herrington is a table setter, and that’s why he’s the Bulldogs leadoff batter. He’s the spark, and once he gets on base, the team feeds off of him.
“As a leadoff man, I feel like I set the tone for the game,” Herrington said. “When I hit, all of (my teammates) start rattling.”
Kossum said Herrington has led the game with a base hit in five of the eight games the Bulldogs have played. And though Herrington will pitch every now and then for Natchez, his natural position is centerfield, where he showcases his athletic ability with gems in the outfield.
“I enjoy pitching, but I like playing defense better,” Herrington said. “I like snagging balls.”
Athletic ability aside, Kossum believes its Herrington’s intangibles and desire to work hard that make him a standout on the team.
“For a young guy, he’s got a really good head on his shoulders, and that’s what allows him to come out and compete no matter who we’re playing against,” Kossum said. “He helps us compete as a team.”
That “young guy” knows he’s far from reaching his potential, and he’s willing to put in the hard work to achieve it.
“I have to get better, more athletic and wiser,” Herrington said. “I’m just an eighth grader, so there’s plenty more to learn.”
Herrington will have his opportunity to get stronger and increase his athleticism when he plays cornerback and wide receiver this fall for Natchez’s football team. Until then, scouts can only fantasize about visiting with Natchez’s leadoff batter.