Solid outlook on mound: SHS returns all arms next season

Starkville's Austin Campbell
By: 
DANNY P. SMITH
Staff Writer

Pitching won’t be a major concern when the Starkville Yellowjackets gather again for the 2018 season.
Every pitcher that took the mound in some capacity for the Jackets last season will be back for coach Travis Garner next year.
He looks forward to having the arms of Austin Campbell, Griffin Little, Jack Perry, Carter Hunt and Caleb Stewart returning with more experience.
“Believe it or not, we may be the only team in the state that doesn’t lose one inning off the mound this year,” Garner said. “Everybody who pitched this year will be back. We bring back Campbell and Little, who were very good for us this year. We had Perry and Carter Hunt and we found a diamond in the rough with Caleb Stewart. As the year went on, he was kind of a giant slayer.”
Campbell had the most work for SHS last season with 11 appearances. He had a 6-3 record and a 2.68 earned run average.
Little was 3-3 with a 4.65 ERA, while Perry was 4-0 with a 3.97 ERA.
Perry not only developed as a pitcher, but he also became a valuable hitter as a freshman for SHS.
Along with the return of Carter Bentley at the top of the order and veteran Dee Petty in the second spot, Perry gives the Jackets a solid one-two-three in tact.
The power numbers weren't impressive for SHS, but Perry had a .455 batting average and Bentley hit .403.
“Both Perry and Bentley hit well into the .400s,” Garner said. “We kind of knew Bentley would do it, but we didn’t know how good Perry would be. We knew he was good, but didn’t know how good and how quick, then you looked up and he’s hitting third and was a bona fide three-hole hitter and hit well against everybody.
"You bring those two guys back and only lose two every day guys for us. Guys like Petty are going to be back for another year and he has been here forever it seems like. Carter Hunt, Griffin Little and Josh Arnett were all young kids who had never played high school baseball, but by the end of the year were contributing and doing things to help us win. If they continue to grow up, we’ll be just fine.”
Even with their youth in spots this past season, the Jackets still managed a winning record at 16-15 and reached the second round of the Class 6A postseason for the second-straight season.
Garner said the key for all returners is to have a productive summer and that they improve.
There will be a little bit of rest time on the front end, but he said the time will come to go back to work.
“We bring back so much and hopefully we can have a good summer,” Garner said. “We get these kids away a little bit and let them relax a little bit, but at the same time, once summer gets rolling, get ready to roll and get better for next year.”

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