Transition no problem for Hutchins

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 15, 2000

Chris Hutchins helped close out one tradition and start a new one. Hutchins was a junior on the last South Natchez-Adams High School baseball team in 1989 and was named Metro Player of the Year on the first Natchez High baseball team in 1990.

South Natchez and North Natchez consolidated to become Natchez High in 1989.

Hutchins was the first Natchez pitcher to toss a no-hitter, keeping Brookhaven hitless 10 years ago.

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Hutchins compiled an 8-3 record on the mound with a 2.85 earned run average, while also batting .434 with 18 RBI.

Hutchins, who graduated No. 13 out of his class of 316 at Natchez High with a 3.81 grade point average, was also steady in the infield, making very few errors at second base.

&uot;I think I appreciate more my senior year now than I did then,&uot; Hutchins said. &uot;Nobody knew how good we had it then. I&160;played with people who became friends for a lifetime.&uot;

Hutchins said playing at South Natchez meant trying to keep up a powerful tradition of winning.

&uot;I felt a little pressure when I came in as a freshman,&uot; he said. &uot;That was probably one of the best teams that ever came through South Natchez with Lee Havard, Jason Simmons, Michael Lindsey, Todd Thomas. I knew we would never be as good as they were.&uot;

Hutchins said it was a longtime dream to start on a South Natchez team.

&uot;I&160;guess growing up when I was in McLaurin I always wanted to play baseball at South Natchez,&uot; he said. &uot;It was a dream. My last three years I got to play in Smith-Wills Stadium in the Big 8 and state tournaments. It was the best baseball in the state.&uot;

Then came consolidation.

&uot;I thought it went reasonably smooth,&uot; Hutchins said. &uot; We knew all of the guys at North Natchez. It was a great time to be a senior.&160;There may have been some apprehension in the school, but not among the athletes. We didn’t have any problem jelling.&uot;

Hutchins said the fact Buddy Wade went from head coach at South Natchez to head coach at Natchez High helped ease any doubt he may have had about the consolidation.

&uot;That was all that was important,&uot; Hutchins said. &uot;Coach Wade was strict. He’s a coaching legend. I grew up down the street from him, and I was scared to death of him for the first 15 years of my life. I see him all the time now.&uot;

Hutchins credited his work ethic with the success he had in baseball.

&uot;I understand baseball,&uot; he said. &uot;I knew the fundamentals. I&160;tried to stay focused and calm.&uot;

Hutchins attended Mississippi State after graduating from Natchez High. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business management.

&uot;I never really contemplated playing baseball,&uot; he said. &uot;After 17 years in the summer 24 hours a day, I was pretty much tired of it.&uot;

Hutchins has been at United Mississippi Bank for five years. He is currently assistant vice-president at the bank, working out of the Morgantown branch.

Hutchins and his wife, Skeeter, have a daughter, Kailey, who will be 2 years old in the next two weeks.

And Hutchins’ 10th reunion will be this weekend.

&uot;I’m excited about that,&uot; Hutchins said. &uot;I&160;see the same people around town all the time. We’ve got people coming from California, Texas and North Carolina, and it will be good to see them.&uot;

And Hutchins can probably count on some of his former classmates bringing up the Metro Player of the Year award.

&uot;I still remember the phone call when I got it,&uot; he said. &uot;I had no comprehension I was in the running. I just didn’t see myself having that kind of year.&uot;