CALEDONIA — It hasn’t been a secret that Cade Stacy and Beau Bates were going to play baseball after they graduated from Caledonia High School.
Stacy and Bates have been key contributors for the Confederates for the past two seasons. They also have played at a high level on the travel ball circuit, so the final destinations were the only things Stacy and Bates had to finalize Monday. In front of family, friends, and coaches, Stacy and Bates celebrated their decisions to play baseball at Meridian Community College and at East Mississippi C.C. in Scooba, respectively, in a signing ceremony outside the school library.
“I have been looking forward to this for a long time,” Stacy said. “It is what I have been trying to get, and I finally got there. All of the stress is off from that. Now I can just play.”
Stacy, a right-handed pitcher, first showed signs has could contribute on the mound as a sophomore, when he went 1-1 with a 1.21 earned run average. In 17 1/3 innings, he allowed 15 hits, three earned runs, and 13 walks. He struck out 20. Stacy took a step forward last season, emerging as one of the Confederates’ top pitchers in a 16-13 season that ended in the second round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A playoffs. Stacy earned playoff victories against Yazoo City and Kosciusko as part of a 5-3 season. He sported a stingy 1.07 ERA in nine games. In 46 innings, he surrendered 24 hits and walked 29. He struck out 72.
The highlight of Stacy’s season was a five-inning no-hitter against Yazoo City in the opening round of the playoffs. In two postseason outings, Stacy allowed only two hits and zero earned runs in 10 innings. He walked eight and struck out 20.
“Last season helped out a lot,” Stacy said. “I know I can do what I did last year and this year I have the potential to do better than I did.”
Stacy said his performance as a junior raised expectations for his future and motivated him to work harder. He spent much of the offseason playing with the East Coast Sox travel baseball organization, which Bates also belongs to. Stacy pitched and played in the outfield in the summer.
Stacy said he visited numerous junior colleges in the state of Mississippi and some small Division I schools. He said he knew he wanted to go to Meridian C.C. after he took his visit. He said he gave a verbal commitment in August.
“The success they have had and I have heard a lot of good things about the development (of players at the school),” Stacy said when asked what impressed him about his visit to the school. “I want them to get me the best I can be and move on from there.”
Stacy also was third on the team with 13 runs scored and fourth on the team with 13 RBIs. He added four doubles and 10 stolen bases.
Bates had a monster sophomore season, hitting .367 with 33 hits and 22 RBIs. Last season, Bates led Caledonia with 28 runs and three home runs. He also was third on the team with 14 RBIs and five doubles. On the mound, Bates logged 27 2/3 innings and struck out 42. He said he projects as a center field — his current position — at EMCC.
“It was hard to turn down that place,” said Bates, who hadn’t thought about attending EMCC prior to his visit, but he said he knew immediately he wanted to go to Scooba.
Bates said he enjoyed his visit to Scooba and meeting new head coach Brett Kimbrel, who took over for former coach Chris Rose in May. Kimbrel spent the past two seasons as an assistant baseball coach at EMCC. Prior to that, he spent 12 seasons as an assistant coach on Bobby Sprowl’s Shelton State C.C. baseball staff.
Bates said there are times when it feels like he has been playing baseball for a long time. He said he remembers when he played coach-pitch and that he is anxious to start another phase of his baseball career at EMCC.
“I think I am going to like it. It is going to be something different,” said Bates, who played with the East Coast Sox for four years. “I have been working for this for a long time. I think I am going to do fine.”
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.