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Baseball King

In a season of superlatives, Brookhaven’s Paxton King was adriving force, either on the mound or at the plate. The seniorsouthpaw produced an 8-1 pitching record, played first base andbatted .404, directing the Panthers to the Division 6-4Achampionship and the second round of the state playoffs.

For his performance, King has been selected The DAILY LEADER’SMr. Baseball and Most Valuable Player on the 2008 All-LincolnCounty Team. The Southern Miss signee helped Coach Randy Spring’sPanthers compile a 25-8 record.

Also receiving special recognition on the DL’s Dream Team arecatcher Kolby Byrd of Brookhaven Academy, chosen Most ValuableDefensive Player; third baseman Corey Dickerson of BrookhavenAcademy, Offensive MVP, and shortstop Bud Britt of Brookhaven,voted All-Purpose MVP.

Other pitchers named to the squad are Drew Weaver of Loyd Star,Tripp Jolly of Brookhaven Academy and Ryan Kennedy of EnterpriseThe catchers are Zach Williams of West Lincoln, Travis Keene ofLoyd Star and Scotty Brown of Bogue Chitto.

Joining Dickerson in the infield are Cody Ratcliff and ChrisDixon of Brookhaven and Will Gatlin of Brookhaven Academy.

Outfielders are Peyton Greene of Enterprise, Nick Helmstetterand Brice Huckaby of Brookhaven, and J.J. Jones of Loyd Star.

The designated hitters are Seth Avants of Bogue Chitto and BrettRushing of West Lincoln. Zach Halliwell and Brandon Foster ofBrookhaven are the team’s utility players.

The Dream Team was selected by DL Sports Department members,with input provided by area college coaches.

King, 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, signed early with USM and looksforward to playing time next season with the Golden Eagles. He willrepresent BHS in the Mississippi Association of Coaches All-StarBaseball Game, June 7, at Trustmark Park in Pearl.

His statistics are impressive. In 57 innings, he struck out 83batters and walked 22. He had a 1.22 ERA.

“I threw a changeup more than last year,” said King, who earnedMr. Baseball honors in 2007. “I started holding the balldifferently. I threw less curveballs and had more velocity with myfastball.”

At the plate, King batted .404, with 33 RBIs. He hit 9 doubles,3 triples and 1 homer.

Looking at his team’s success, King said, “We had a lot ofyounger guys who stepped up and did what they needed to do. Ourreturning starters played well, too.”

King is staying busy this summer. He travels to Jackson once aweek for private training sessions with Gary Thompson ofPerformance Sports Academy. He also runs and lifts weights in hisspare time.

“Paxton had another great year for us,” said BHS coach RandySpring. “He’s a competitor who was a senior leader for us.”

In the classroom, King also excelled. He compiled a 3.7 GPA.

Corey Dickerson (6-2, 200) set the career home runrecord in the Mississippi Private School Association. He has 45homers, including 15 this season. His .591 batting average and 55RBIs stand as school records.

“I wanted to be better than what I did in past years,”answered Dickerson, when asked about his goals in2008.

Dickerson bats left-handed and sees a majority ofright-handed pitchers. He looks for any movement on the baseballwhat would reveal what kind of pitch is being offered. “I’m alwayslooking for the curveball.”

He played shortstop and third base for Coach StephenCooksey’s BA Cougars, leading them to the state playoffs. In theMPSA Class AA-AAA All-Star Baseball Game last Saturday, Dickersonsmashed a single and a double, the 2-bagger landing at the base ofthe center field fence, over 400 feet from home plate.

He uses a 33-inch, 30-ounce Easton Stealthbat.

A 3-sport standout, Dickerson played running back andcornerback in football. He earned all-state tournament honors as ashooting forward in basketball.

“Baseball is my favorite sport,” said Dickerson, who hasparticipated in several tryouts with Major League Baseball teams.He has signed a baseball scholarship with Meridian CommunityCollege.

“Corey only struck out once during the season,” saidCoach Cooksey. “He’s a very good hitter with quick hands. He has alot of power in his bat.”

On many occasions, Dickerson was intentionallywalked.

“Corey’s not a selfish hitter,” said Cooksey. “He’ll hita double when we need to score some runs instead of going for ahome run. He’s a a team player.”

Bud Britt (6-0, 190), a junior, accomplished a rare featthis season. In 105 at-bats, he didn’t strike out.

Offensively, Britt batted .486. He slugged 9 homers andamassed 31 RBIs.

On the mound, Britt posted a 5-4 worksheet and a 2.61ERA. He struck out 78 batters and walked 26 in 53innings.

“I got more patient and didn’t chase any bad pitchesthis season,” said Britt, when asked about his batting skills. “Ijust put the ball in play. I try to sit back and see the ball andrecognize the spin.”

Britt uses a 33-inch, 30-ounce Easton Stealth when he’sbatting.

“I like playing shortstop,” said Britt. “You get a lotof chances to make plays.”

He and Helmstetter will play in the Junior SunbeltClassic later this month in McAllister, Okla.

“Bud has been a clutch hitter for us,” said Spring. “Hecan hit with power to all fields.”

Kolby Byrd (6-0, 220), a junior, is recognized for hisdefensive skills. At a New York Mets tryout, he had a pop time of1.8 seconds in throws to second base.

“I like catching,” said Byrd. “You are always in actionon every single play. It’s the most work on thefield.”

Asked about improvements, Byrd said, “My throwdowns gota lot better this year. You have to have quick feet,too.”

At the plate, Byrd batted .391. He hit 10 homers andcollected 44 RBIs.

“Kolby is the best catcher in Lincoln County,” saidCooksey. “He has a strong arm and a quick release.”

Byrd is playing for the Jackson 96ers thissummer.

Ryan Kennedy, a junior southpaw, compiled a 5-3 recordfor Coach Seth Lofton’s Enterprise Yellow Jackets. He had a 1.83ERA, helping his team make the Class 1A stateplayoffs.

Tripp Jolly, a sophomore, posted a 7-2 record for the BACougars.

Drew Weaver, a senior, authored a 6-1 record for CoachJonathan Breakfield’s Loyd Star Hornets. He had a 2.40 ERA,striking out 33 batters in 50 innings and walking 13.

Scotty Brown, a senior, batted .390 and hit 2 homers forCoach Adam Moak’s

Bogue Chitto Bobcats.

Travis Keene, a freshman, batted .396 for Loyd Star andcollected 24 RBIs.

Zach Williams, a junior, batted .458 for Coach SteveBarrington’s West Lincoln Bears. He had 19 RBIs and 2homers.

Cody Ratcliff, a senior, batted .326 for the BHSPanthers. He hit 7 homers and had 35 RBIs.

Chris Dixon, a senior, batted .337 for the Panthers,collecting 14 RBIs.

Will Gatlin, a sophomore, batted .393 for the Cougars.He had 32 RBIs.

Peyton Greene, a senior, batted .397 for the YellowJackets. He hit 6 homers.

Nick Helmstetter, a sophomore, batted .359 for thePanthers. He stole 11 bases and hit 7 homers.

J.J. Jones, a junior, batted .400 for theHornets.

Brice Huckaby, a sophomore, batted . 349 for thePanthers. He had 6 doubles and 29 RBIs.

Seth Avants, a junior, batted .539 for the Bobcats. Hehit 10 homers.

Brett Rushing, a junior, batted .529 for the Bears. Hehad 25 RBIs and 6 homers.

Zach Halliwell, a sophomore, batted .373 for thePanthers, collecting 21 RBIs. On the mound, he had a 2-0record.

Brandon Foster, a sophomore, batted .333 for thePanthers. He had a 5-2 pitching record, striking out 36 batters in35 innings.