Wallace sophomores eager for return to state tournament
There are only a few more practices for the Wallace Govs before they enter ACCC state tournament play this Friday at Ozark’s Eagle Stadium. During practice Wednesday morning on campus, Wallace College assistant coach Pete Coachman told his team, “Guys, the main thing I want for you guys to do is to compete. I want you to compete from the first pitch to the last out. I want you to compete for every strike. I want you to compete with every ground ball and every defensive play.”
Coachman has seen plenty of Wallace teams go to the state tournament, and he knows what it takes to win. So do three returning sophomores who were starters that helped Wallace get to last year’s state tournament. They are John Hutto, who played at Northview, Jake Brown from Rehobeth, and Aaron Green of Sneads, Florida. All three players said last year was a big learning experience.
“It’s something I’m glad I got to experience as a freshman,” said Brown, who is the Govs starting short stop. “I’m glad I’m not going through it the first time as a sophomore. There is so much going on—including just the excitement of playing in the state tournament.”
“It was a great experience,” said Hutto, the team’s starting first baseman. “I know what to expect this time around. Nothing will come as a shock to me.”
“It was a good learning experience,” echoed Green, the Govs’ starting second baseman. “I think it would be tough to go through this for the first time.”
After two years of playing junior college baseball, these three guys know what it takes to win. Their personalities may be different, but basically their message is the same.
Brown has taken on more of a leadership role this year. Even when he makes a mistake in the field or at the plate, he does his best to get and keep the team focused and in the game. And that was reflected in his comments.
“It’s all about the bonding of the team and how we come together,” he said. “We need to play for each other. “
“Playing together as team is something we haven’t done consistently all year,” Hutto said, who is more a quiet slugger for the Govs. “That’s our biggest challenge.”
When asked if coming from a local 6A school where he had plenty of success put any added pressure on him, Hutto said, “No. I had a chance to go play other places. I just chose to stay close to home.”
Green doesn’t say much, but his hustle is unmatched on the team. He plays great defense and is constantly diving for balls that would get by a lot of other second basemen. He is fundamentally sound and has great baseball instincts.
All three sophomores also agree two years of junior college baseball has made a difference in their lives as a baseball player and as a person.
“It’s been a learning experience,” Green said. “I guess the biggest thing for me is, you learn to do a lot of things for yourself. Plus, I know now it’s more about the work you put in. The more work you put in, the more you get out of it.”
“I’ve become a lot more mature,” Hutto said. “I’ve learned to do a lot of things on my own.”
While Hutto used the word mature, Brown said, “I’m more responsible. I do a lot of stuff now that in high school I would have relied on the coaches to do.”
As their junior college careers near an end, all three of these guys have some direction in their lives. So far, only Hutto knows for sure where he will be next year. He has already signed to play at Stillman College and he is seeking a business degree. Green says he wants to play two more years somewhere, and after that he wants to go into coaching. Brown would also like to continue playing and he is working on an accounting degree.
Brown, Green, and Hutto will most likely wrap up their junior college careers in the ACCC baseball tournament which starts Friday. Wallace will open tournament play at 7:30 against the number one team in the country, Chattahoochee Valley of nearby Phenix City. But Brown isn’t conceding a game here either.
“One thing about it, this starts a new season,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what they have done in the past, or what we have done in the past. It will all be in the moment and that’s all we need to worry about. “