Starkville High School's Nathan Pugh (12) celebrates scoring a run with his teammates. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
Hard work and a good work ethic have been what Nathan Pugh has relied on his whole life.
The Starkville High School senior was selected as Starkville Daily News Player of the Year in baseball.
Danny Carlisle, who retired as SHS coach after the season, remembers how serious Pugh took his responsibility as a Yellowjacket.
"I'd be leaving the field late and I remember one particular day I was coming back to the field," Carlisle said. "I left my sunglasses on the shelf so came back and I met Pugh. He was walking over to the field and he's got a bat. I asked him what he was doing and he said, 'Coach, I tell you what. If you visualize it and see it, it can happen.' This was before we played Neshoba Central the first time and he said, 'I'm going to envision and see myself getting the game-winning hit in the last inning or extra innings.'"
Pugh delivered on that by hitting a walk-off double in the bottom of the eighth to give the Yellowjackets a win over the Rockets.
"What does he do but hits a double down the line to score Max Bartlett from first in that very next game we played," Carlisle said. "Work habits, he's up there all the time. You have to have a partner when you are hitting and Max was his partner. They put in the extra hours. He has unquestionable character and is a great role model for other kids to look up to."
His handwork has seemed to pay off. Pugh led the Jackets with a .468 batting average, 25 RBI and 44 hits.
Pugh also had nine doubles, two triples and a home run.
"I worked a lot harder this year than I have any other year," Pugh said. "Me and my teammate Max Bartlett did a bunch of hitting together. When we'd hit, we would visualize ourselves getting big hits. He helped and encouraged me and I encouraged him. All of my teammates helped each other get better."
For Pugh, it was his last year, but also for his coach. There was a lot of motivation and a lot to play for this season in Pugh's eyes.
"I wanted to not only get better myself, but help my teammates get better," Pugh said. "I wanted to win a championship this year."
Pugh was a versatile player and was selected by the coach's to the Class 5A All-State first team as a utility player.
"I had a big role for the team," Pugh said. "They depended on me a lot and that's what you want. I'm glad I could be that guy that my team depended on. I did whatever they wanted me to."
Pugh was also the number two pitcher for the Jackets. He pitched 57.2 innings, registered a 5-4 record, struck out 54 batters and registered a 1.25 walks and hits per innings pitched. He also had a earned run average of 2.55.
Pugh will continue his career at Pearl River Community College next season.
"It is real exciting," Pugh said. "It's a dream. I have been dreaming my whole life to play college baseball and to see how hard work will let anything happen. It is something I have worked hard for my whole life. I'm excited about going to the next level continuing playing baseball, getting better at what I do and sharing the love of Christ."
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