REMEMBER WHEN: Alumni of Pike County schools continue to shine after their high school careers
Published 3:00 am Thursday, May 14, 2015
By Dan Smith
Making the best of an opportunity to play at the next level is the goal of many high school baseball players, and Charles Henderson High graduate Joey Denison certainly made the best of his opportunity and more.
Wrapping up his second season at Southern Union, Denison led the team in at least 13 offensive batting categories, earning him a scholarship to play at Troy University next year.
Denison is one of 14 local CHHS and Pike Liberal Arts graduates currently playing junior college or Division I baseball.
This season at Southern Union in Wadley, Denison led the team in batting average at .399; runs, 34; hits, 67; doubles, 16; triples with four; home runs with two; RBI, 43; slugging percentage, 0.577; stolen bases with 17 in 18 attempts; hit by pitch with nine; sacrifice flies with five; total bases with 97 and extra base hits with 22.
“Obviously I am glad I chose to go to junior college, as that was probably the best thing I could have done for myself,” said Denison. “I am glad I got to play for Coach (Jabo) Jordan, who was my head coach and hitting coach. I would put him up there against anybody. I think he is one of the best hitting coaches around. I definitely grew when I moved away from Troy, and grew up as a man and matured. On the field I got a lot of reps that I probably would not have got to play at another school.
“I’m going to play in the Metro League in Montgomery this summer. I’m really excited to get back to Troy. It was the best situation for me to sign with Troy University, as my family will be able to watch all of my games. I’m excited about that. The main thing about this past year is I got faster. I got smaller in size, but gained more in muscle and lost body fat. I’m ready to be a Trojan.”
Another local Troy native having a big year is Chandler Avant in Tuscaloosa, who has played almost every game as a true freshman at the University of Alabama.
Avant is hitting .285 on the season and is third on the team in base hits with 63. Avant also has eight doubles, 20 RBI and is 10-of-13 in stolen bases.
Here are many other former CHHS and PLAS baseball players listed alphabetically, and how they are doing to date:
A 2014 graduate of Pike Liberal Arts, Adams was an outstanding athlete for the Patriots, and today is on the squad at Southern Union. Adams had surgery on his ankle but has recovered well and is being red-shirted by Southern Union this year and is expected to compete for playing time next season.
Baggett, a CHHS graduate and infielder of the 2013 state championship team, is a freshman at LBW, and batted .300 this season with 21 runs scored, four doubles and 15 RBI.
Blackmon was the go-to pitcher for Charles Henderson on the 2013 Class 4A state championship baseball team, but an injury at Southern Union required surgery, and he is in the final stages of his rehab and working out with the team.
The former 2014 state champion CHHS player is in his first season at Miles College, where he plays third base and is a right-handed pitcher. Xaivius completed the year with a 4-2 record on the mound, while batting .222 with 15 RBI.
Former Pike Liberal Arts standout Blake Floyd, a graduate of 2012, is on the roster of Troy University for the 2015 season and recovering well from elbow surgery. Floyd was a three-time all-state selection at PLAS, where he broke a school record with a .530 batting average during his sophomore season.
Fox, a 2013 CHHS graduate, is a junior infielder at UAH, where he batted .262 this season with two doubles, two triples and three home runs.
Haistings, a CHHS graduate of 2013, was a sophomore at Lawson State this spring, where he played third base and also pitched. On the mound Haistings led the team with 10 saves, had a 3.68 ERA and struck out 19 batters in 22 innings of work, while batting .208.
Lawson, a 2010 graduate of CHHS, batted .282 at Texas Wesleyan with 33 hits, five doubles, two triples and one home run.
Mabray, a 2013 CHHS graduate, is a sophomore who had a big 5-0 record, a 3.05 ERA, 38 strike outs and two saves.
McLeod, a 2010 graduate of CHHS, saw lots of work on the mound this season, ending up with a 5-7 record, a very good 2.95 ERA and struck out 81 batters in 82 innings pitched.
John Michael Stephens
Central Alabama Community College
The tall left-handed pitcher and 2014 CHHS graduate is in his first year at CACC, where he finished with a 5-6 record, a 5.05 ERA and struck out 41 batters.
Georgia Southwestern State
Stewart, a former PLAS Patriot, was having an outstanding year on the mound until shoulder soreness, which doctors have told him he will fully recover with rest and no surgery. The hard throwing right-handed pitcher was 1-0 on the young season with a 1.20 ERA, and striking out 15 batters while recording one save.