Franklin County baseball star earns top honors

Published 12:02 am Sunday, June 4, 2017

Franklin County High School’s Thomas Slagle can pitch, and he can certainly hit.

Yet, what Slagle refuses to do is take all the credit for himself.

The 6-foot right-hander posted a 6-2 record on the mound with a 2.73 ERA. He tossed a total of 43.2 innings and recorded 34 strikeouts.

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At the plate, Slagle hit six home runs, four triples and seven doubles, ending the year with a .405 batting average.

For his efforts during the 2017 season, Slagle has been named The Natchez Democrat’s All-Metro Baseball Player of the Year.

“I really wasn’t expecting it,” Slagle said. “I kind of just didn’t believe it, but it is exciting.”

As one of four seniors for the Bulldogs this year, Slagle helped lead Franklin County to the third round of MHSAA Class 3A playoffs in early May.

He tallied 41 RBIs and scored 24 runs himself and was also named a member of the MHSAA Class 3A First Team.

“I know I was seeing the ball well and hitting it hard, but I tried do just put it in play,” Slagle said. “I was thinking about what I needed to do for the team.”

First-year FCHS coach Josh Thibodeaux said the impact of the Bulldog’s co-captain was felt on and off the field.

“Slagle was always that kind of guy that people looked up to and followed his lead,” Thibodeaux said. “He steps up to the challenge. He really took the bull by the horns this year.”

Franklin County (20-8) reached the South State Semifinals for the first time in more than two decades, and Slagle said it was made possible by the group’s combined effort.

“We set ourselves up by winning (region),” he said. “Everybody kind of just bought into it and worked hard every day at practice.”

The Bulldogs ultimately fell in their third-round matchup to West Marion in a best-of-three series, dropping the first game, 4-3, and the second, 10-0.

While his senior season didn’t end with a championship, Slagle said he was glad to have been a part of this year’s postseason run.

“You could tell (a big game) hadn’t been around here in a while, but it was great to have it back. It makes you feel a whole lot better when you are playing in front of a packed house,” he said. “It’s great to set the tone for Coach Thibodeaux’s career at Franklin County. For the kids who still have time left to play, they know what to expect now and hopefully can do what we couldn’t this year.”

Slagle’s next step will take him to Copiah-Lincoln Community College where he will play baseball for the Wolves. He said he will likely take a spot as an infielder.

While Slagle said he is curious to see what the college experience offers him, he will never forget the shared memories at Franklin County.

“That last game, I sat in the dugout for a while with the other seniors and started thinking about times when we were 9 and 10. It won’t be about playing for your hometown anymore, or playing with the guys you grew up with,” he said. “I just love it. There really is nothing else like baseball. It holds a special place in my heart.”