CALEDONIA — Houston Mims seized the opportunity.
At the time, the freshman on the Caledonia High School junior varsity baseball team didn’t know the chance would change the course of his prep career. The only thing Mims considered was his team needed a catcher and he volunteered to move from the outfield to fill the void.
“Ever since I was in Coach-Pitch, I was always playing in the outfield because I had a pretty decent arm,” Mims said. “I played catcher some in Little League and then I started working at it. I wasn’t very good at it at first, but I started to put some effort into it and it worked out the way it needed to, so I was really pleased.”
Mims’ decision came full circle last week in a signing ceremony at the school in which he committed to playing baseball at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson.
Mims led Caledonia (16-13) with a .391 batting average, a .490 on-base percentage, and a .609 slugging percentage among players with 50 or more at-bats. He also paced the team with 34 hits, 13 doubles, and 26 RBIs.
Mims said he never would have thought his move from outfield to catcher as a freshman would pave the way for a new position.
“I was all over the place,” said Mims, who went back to the outfield and also played third base in his high school career. “It was my sophomore year when I took the starting role and that was when I really stuck to playing catcher.”
Mims said he quickly realized catcher could be a home, which is part of the reason he said he “fell in love” with being a leader on the field.
Mims played in only five games and had 14 at-bats as a junior. He had to have surgery on his thumb following a tournament in LaGrange, Georgia, and didn’t get cleared to play until after the team lost to Pontotoc in the second round of the playoffs.
Mims regrouped for a senior season that saw him lead Caledonia to the second round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A playoffs, where it lost to North State runner-up Kosciusko. Mims wrapped up his prep career with classmates Seth and Sawyer Brown and Hunter McMurphey.
Mims was named co-Most Valuable Defensive Player out of Region 2, while Cade Stacy shared Most Valuable Pitcher honors. Beau Bates and Sawyer and Seth Brown were named first-team all-region, while Westlee Honeycutt was named second-team all-region.
The season also marked the end for Caledonia High coach John Wilson, who announced his retirement earlier in the school year. Wilson, who coached for 40 years, praised Mims for his hard work in realizing an opportunity to continue his baseball career in college.
Wilson said Mims volunteered to play catcher after something happened to the JV catcher. He said Mims “deserves” the opportunity to play at Copiah-Lincoln C.C. because he has invested plenty of time to become a better player.
“He’s not afraid to block. He is not afraid to get down and get dirty to do what he needs to do,” Wilson said. “Besides what we did in skill practices in practice, you would look over there and when it was spare time he would have somebody throwing balls and he would be blocking balls. He worked on his own.”
Wilson said that work accounted for the fact many teams didn’t run on him. Still, he threw out 15 runners trying to steal bases. Wilson attributes Mims’ success to a quick release and good footwork.
Mims said he watched catchers on TV and saw how they played the position and how smooth they were. He said he wanted to be a “captain on the field” and worked to improve his skills and his attitude so he could set the tone for his teammates.
“You have to make sure all of the players are in check and you have to do everything you can do to keep a positive attitude throughout the dugout,” Mims said. “I think that my biggest improvement is my attitude.”
In realizing his dream to play college baseball, Mims said he is going to keep working hard to try to take the next step from a position he has grown to love.
“I am blessed to see this day,” Mims said. “It is a completely different level, and the competition is going to be a big step. I think it is going to be fun to work that much harder. I am really looking forward to it.”
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.