BA’s Watts joining Wolves baseball program after signing letter of intent

Published 5:31 pm Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Copiah-Lincoln head baseball coach Clay Smith is no stranger to the thrill of reeling in a big fish as wetting a line is one of his hobbies during the offseason.

Earlier this week Smith hauled in a local lunker when Brookhaven Academy senior right-hand pitcher Tanner Watts signed a letter-of-intent to join the Wolves next season.

A power pitcher, Watts made 13 appearances and drew 11 starts as a junior for the Cougars. He finished with a 5-5 record and struck out 64 in 51.1 innings of action.

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The Cougars won their second straight MAIS AA state championship last season and it was a third-straight title personally for Watts. He was a starting pitcher as a freshman for the Loyd Star team that won the 2017 MHSAA 2A state title

Watts was a MAIS all-state selection last season as he drove in 20 runs at the plate while hitting four doubles and one homerun. The son of Jason and Heather Watts, his brother Tucker signed a baseball scholarship with Southwest and played one year for the Bears.

His mother is in the Co-Lin Hall of Fame for her basketball career as a Lady Wolf. His sister Courtney was a standout tennis player at Co-Lin too.

In 2018 Watts suffered a serious knee injury playing football that saw him work through a lengthy rehab.

He was back on the mound by the time BA made the championship series. In the state semifinals he struck out 10 and gave up one hit in a must-win game against Centreville Academy.

As a freshman he came in as relief for Loyd Star and finished off the title-clinching win over East Union.

There’s no high schooler in the area with more big-game experience than Watts.

“We’re really excited to add Tanner to our club,” said Smith. “He is one of the best arms in our area and we think he has a chance to keep getting better. He’s a high character guy with a great personality and is going to be fun to coach.”

In the 2020 BA season opener Watts struck out six in four innings against Parklane while giving up one hit.

The second appearance of his senior season was out of the bullpen against Simpson where he threw 37 pitches over two innings and gave up two earned runs on two hits. Noah Freeman of Simpson Academy is also a CLCC signee.

His longest outing of the 2020 season was a six-inning, 80-pitch effort in a 2-1 win over Madison Ridgeland Academy. Watts struck out five, walked one and gave up one earned run on five hits.

In a 1-0 loss to Hartfield Academy, Watts only needed 70 pitches to get through six innings. He struck out three, walked one and gave up a single earned run on five hits.

The MAIS has suspended athletic events through this week due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The likelihood that high school athletics return this season are low at the moment.

Watts started in the final BA baseball game before sports were shuttered. He only needed 19 pitches to get through two innings against Columbia Academy on March 11. Striking out three, Watts didn’t give up a hit or surrender a walk.

Besides Watts and Freeman, Smtih and his staff have also signed Canton Academy pitcher Lance Elsen and Amite School Center infielder Colton Womack from the MAIS ranks.

Bogue Chito pitcher Shaw King, Monterey (Louisiana) pitcher Jacob Spinks and Columbia High pitcher/infielder Aiden Singley all also inked early with the Wolves when the signing period began back in November.

The Wolves also signed Reed Barlow of Florence High and recently got a LOI from Aaron Coats of Greenville-Weston High.

Local product Kenner Bizot of Wesson, Joe Pearson of Madison-St. Joe and Ben White of Cathedral are all also slated to join the Wolves next season as well.

Smith and his team were 11-4 before their season was cancelled due to Covid-19. The Wolves were on a nine-game win streak before the NJCAA announced that all spring sports would be immediately shut down.