Centreville players reflect on All-State honors

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, June 8, 2011

NATCHEZ — It takes a great deal of hard work and dedication to put together a championship season like the Centreville Academy baseball team did this season. It also takes talent, and the Tigers featured plenty of that this spring, which is evidenced by three players making the MAIS All-State team.

Pitcher Hunter Devall, catcher Tyler Towles and shortstop Hunter Travis were all tabbed as All-State players by the MAIS coaches this season. Devall was named Co-Player of the Year, while Towles and Travis made second-team All-State.

“It was a great honor (to be selected),” Travis said. “It was very shocking, and you can’t really (be selected) without a (good) team. If you don’t have a winning season it’s hard to get recognized.

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“It was a big shock, I’ve never gotten anything like that, and it was awesome, but it was a team effort.”

That team effort led Centreville to its first ever MAIS title, and the three All-State players were heavy contributors.

Devall went 10-1 on the season and struck out 140 batters in just 73 innings pitched. He also batted .405, with two home runs and 25 RBIs.

“(Making All-State) was a good feeling,” Devall said. “I was hoping I’d get it, but at the same time wasn’t as sure, because I didn’t have as good a year as I wanted.”

“It was great, just winning state was enough for me, but being named All-State made it that much better.”

Devall’s teammates said they are impressed with his ability to get strikeouts.

“Its always great (playing behind Devall),” Travis said. “I don’t get that many balls hit to me, because he pretty much shuts them down. But I love when he’s pitching. He’s a great pitcher, and it’s great to be behind him.”

Towles has an even better view of Devall’s pitches from his position as a catcher.

“I can’t explain (how good Devall is),” said Towles said. “Everything he throws has movement. He’s a great pitcher.”

Travis hit .410 on the season with 26 RBIs and a .510 on-base percentage. He also put together a fine season with the glove, he said.

“Definitely my fielding (is my strength),” said Travis, who finished the season with a .893 fielding percentage.

“I’m pretty quick I guess, and I can get the ball up the middle with a backhand, and (make) those type of plays. (I think that’s) how I got All-State, is my fielding.”

Devall said having Travis behind him at short, makes his job easier.

“It’s a great feeling knowing that anything hit up the middle or to his side will be caught,” Devall said

Towles finished the season with a .420 batting average, five home runs, 37 RBIs and slugged .714. He too was solid on the defensive side, boasting a perfect fielding percentage behind the plate. Towles also came up with one of the biggest hits of the Centreville season.

“I hit a walk-off homer in the second game of the state championship to put us in the third game,” Towles said. “It was a pretty good year.”

Even after winning the state title and having three players selected All-State, Centreville fans might have even more to look forward to next season, because all three players were juniors this past season. In fact, Centreville lost just one senior off the state title roster.

“(Our goal) team wise is another state championship, without a doubt,” said Devall, who is already committed to play at LSU. “We have a great group of guys coming back.”

All three players said they are working hard this summer to improve individually, and as a team.

“I want to improve my bat, definitely, from the right and left side,” said Travis, who started working on becoming a switch-hitter at the beginning of last season. “(I am also) trying to get stronger and bigger.”

Devall said he has some work to do at the plate, as well, but he plans to continue to focus on pitching.

“(I want to) pick up more velocity and control without a doubt,” he said.

Towles said he plans to focus on his game as a whole.

“I just have to get better in every way I can,” he said.

All three players said they had special moments in the season that stood out for them. Moments like Towles huge, postseason home run, Travis’ big series late in the season against Silliman or Centreville beating Central Private, who they had struggled against previously, for the South State title. But, winning a title for fallen teammate Emile Garrett stood out the most, Travis said.

“We pretty much (won) it for Emile Garrett, (our) great friend that passed away,” Travis said. “We were playing for him all year. Last year we lost in South State, but this year we got it done for him.”