A busy summer of baseball paid off Tuesday for Thomas Stevens.
After playing close to 80 games with a variety of teams, the New Hope High School senior catcher/outfielder gave a verbal commitment to attend Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville. He made the commitment Tuesday evening after his second visit to the school.
“I knew I liked it a lot and on the way home I told my dad I really wanted to go there,” Stevens said. “I told my family what I was going to do and then I called the coaches and told them what I was going to do.
“I just felt really comfortable there with their coaches. I feel like they are going to make me the best player I can be.”
The commitment is the latest positive development for Stevens this month. In addition to playing quarterback and leading the New Hope High football team to a 2-0 start to the season, Stevens learned last week he was selected to compete in the 11th-annual World POWER SHOWCASE at the Miami Marlins Park on Dec. 27-31. The event will give some of the world’s top amateur players a chance to showcase their skills in front of baseball’s top evaluators during a live world-wide broadcast.
“From what I saw about it on the Internet it looked like it was really fun,” Stevens said. “I am looking forward to it.”
Stevens, a senior catcher/outfielder, was named to the 11th Annual POWER SHOWCASE All-America team after hitting a team-best .381 and hitting seven home runs as a junior last season for coach Lee Boyd and the New Hope High baseball team, which went 20-12 and advanced to the third round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A playoffs.
In addition to leading the team in batting average and home runs, Stevens was first in hits (37), third in runs scored (24), and tied for second in walks (16).
Stevens stayed busy over the summer. He was on the District 4 team with New Hope High teammates Carson Forrester, Parker Lane, and Drew Pounders that won the gold medal in June at the State Games in Meridian. He also stayed active with the Golden Spikes travel ball team. The exposure helped him earn multiple junior college scholarship offers. He said he made the most of his time at baseball events by going to college campuses whenever he was in that town to see which school he liked the best.
“I think Thomas just loves to play,” Boyd said earlier this summer. “With the way he was swinging the bat, I thought he would get several offers and one led to two and then three and then five. The thing with Thomas is he hits it so well, which is why guys are on him.
“He consistently got big hits in big ballgames for us and did a good job in the outfield and stepped in and caught some big games.”
Stevens played in multiple tournaments with the Golden Spikes. He said he received scholarship offers from East Mississippi C.C., Itawamba C.C., East Central C.C., Pearl River C.C., Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C., Mississippi Delta C.C., and Hinds C.C. and has been thinking about his college destination for a long time. He said he wanted to make a college choice to get it out of the way so he could concentrate on football and his senior year.
“It is a relief, kind of, because I know I can focus on football and baseball now,” Stevens said. He said he isn’t sure if he also will try to play football at Northeast Mississippi C.C.
In December, Stevens said he will try to do his best against some of the world’s top players and showcase his skills to even more coaches and scouts. He hopes it will give him even more confidence for his senior season in baseball.
Each player was selected to participate in the event based on their abilities, power, scout references, high school, and showcase tournament performance. Stevens will proudly represent Mississippi in the Home Run Derby and the West during the All-American Classic Game. The game highlights the five-day experience that will include top players and coaches, including a MLB Scout Day in front of all 30 organizations, a welcome dinner/ jersey presentation ceremony, the Home Run Derby, and two mental strength sessions.
To learn more about the POWER SHOWCASE or dates and the official selection process, visit www.powershowcase.com.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.