Pearl River baseball makes final additions to 2021-22 roster
Published 3:36 pm Wednesday, October 6, 2021
The Pearl River baseball team has made its final additions to the 2021-22 roster, hitting local pipelines to fill the remaining holes.
The eight additions to the roster are Poplarville RHP Jordan Belsome, Bay RHP/INF Cooper Cooksey, St. Stanislaus UTL Cole Fletcher, Stone C Triston Hickman, Petal RHP Bobby Magee, North Pike INF Alex Perry, Purvis INF Hunter Robinson and West Jones RHP/INF Cole Tolbert.
“One of the things that you want to do when you add to your roster down the stretch is to be picky and add the right missing pieces,” head coach Michael Avalon said. “All of these guys that we added later in the recruiting season are guys that we feel like can come in and make us better. They fill holes that we had and give us depth which is important when you’re competing for a championship.
“We’ve got some very talented players that are also the right people, so we look forward to working with them and trying to win another championship.”
Belsome’s experience will be valuable for the Wildcat pitching staff.
Throughout his four years as a PHS Hornet, he racked up 166 2/3 innings pitched. The right-handed pitcher had 237 strikeouts and just 74 walks in his high school career.
Belsome earned a SunHerald All-South selection after the 2019 season.
“It was fun watching him mature and grow over the years that we’ve been here,” Avalon said. “With him being a local kid, we’ve had a relationship with him since he was in the ninth grade. He’s worked extremely hard to make the improvements and develop into a guy that can help us. He’s a strike-thrower with good command that should be able to pitch innings for us as a starter or a reliever.
“We’re excited to have him.”
Cooksey has a chance to impact the Wildcats as a two-way player.
He was selected as the Lindy Callahan Scholar Athlete as a senior for the BHS Tigers.
“Cooper has been in several of our fall leagues over the past few years,” Avalon said. “We’ve seen him develop. He’s got a chance to help us as both a pitcher and a hitter. He has high upside on the mound. He’s got a good arm. He works really hard, and we expect him to be impactful on the mound and at the plate. He has power and could play a corner infield spot for us, we look forward to his bat and the power.”
Fletcher helped lead the Rock-A-Chaws to an 18-win season as a senior. He held a .313 batting average and .432 on-base percentage, hitting three triples and four homers.
Avalon sees Fletcher as a player with very high potential.
“Fletcher has continuously gotten better, and I don’t think he’s as good as he will become,” he said. “He’s really athletic and can do a lot of things. He’s just got to get the reps. We look forward to seeing his development. He will help us in the outfield.”
Hickman has a chance to be a leader on and off the field for the Wildcats.
In his prep career with the SHS Tomcats, Hickman hit for a .351 batting average, with 59 hits and seven homers, spending most of his time behind the plate.
After the 2021 season, Hickman was named to the CapitalSports 4A All-State First-Team and to the SunHerald All-South Team.
“Triston’s intangibles that he brings are really special,” Avalon said. “He’s the kind of player you want to coach. On the field, he’s a physical guy that has caught at a high level. He caught really good arms in high school so we don’t think the transition will be tough on him.
“He’s a natural leader and we look forward to him competing for time behind the plate.”
Pearl River has had success recruiting from Petal over the past few seasons and have added another Panther to their roster with Magee.
As a senior, Magee earned a PineBelt Sports All-Area Honorable Mention selection.
In his career, Magee had a 2.38 ERA with 104 strikeouts. During his senior season, he pitched 42 1/3 innings, striking out 55 batters.
“We’re really excited about Bobby,” Avalon said. “He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he has a good arm and good stuff. He’s got the right mentality and a blue-collar work ethic. We expect him to help in the back end of ball games and he’ll step in and help immediately.”
Perry had a breakout senior season for North Pike, leading the Jaguars to a 27-7 record while batting .454. He finished the season with 44 hits, 49 RBIs, 15 doubles and seven home runs.
Perry earned a spot on the CapitalSports 4A All-State First-Team after his stellar year.
“Alex has all of the tools,” Avalon said. “He was a shortstop in high school, and we think he could potentially play that for us one day. As a freshman, he will mostly help on the corners of the infield. He has a lot of upside. As he continues to develop, we can see big things in his future.”
Robinson was a mainstay in the PHS Tornadoes lineup throughout his prep career, playing in 65 games from his sophomore to senior year. During that time frame, Robinson hit for a .364 batting average with 78 hits and 35 RBIs.
As a senior, Robinson was a PineBelt Sports All-Area First-Team selection and a CapitalSports 4A All-State Second-Team selection.
“Robinson is a winner,” Avalon said. “He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he plays hard every day. He makes the people around him better. He will be a second baseman but may slide to the outfield some too. He should impact the team just by how hard that he plays.”
Tolbert broke out as a pitcher during his senior season with the WJHS Mustangs, holding a 1.39 ERA in 70 2/3 innings and striking out 127 batters.
Tolbert was also an accomplished hitter, finishing with a .395 batting average, 83 hits, 51 walks, 18 doubles and nine homers in his career.
Tolbert was named 5A All-State First-Team by Capital Sports after his senior season.
“Cole is a physical presence at 6-foot-4 and 200 plus pounds,” Avalon said. “We expect him to help us a lot on the mound and we have high expectations for him. He has a chance to hit for us with his power, but his future will most likely be on the mound. He has a plus arm and plus stuff. He’s an ultimate competitor.”
Pearl River’s incoming class ranks the highest in the MACCC in Perfect Game’s junior college list, coming in at No. 29.
In their list of the Top-500 incoming freshman, Ian Montz (Duson, La.; Acadiana) comes in at No. 343.
Three Wildcats earned selections in the top junior college freshman list with Montz earning the No. 11 spot, Parker Ryan (Jackson; Jackson Academy) is ranked No. 80 and Tolbert comes in at No. 103.
The list is out of 264 incoming junior college freshmen.