ICC signs trio of Monroe County players to baseball scholarships

By Melissa Meador
Sports Editor
Itawamba Community College baseball coach Rick Collier hit the recruiting trail hard in Monroe County on Wednesday, signing Hatley’s Russ Johnson and Amory’s Tanner Poole and Destin Hahn to baseball scholarships for the 2013-2014 season.
Johnson, a shortstop and starting pitcher, was named Division 1-2A Co-Player of the Year and a Daily Journal All-Area selection after helping to lead the Tigers to the 2012 Class 2A North finals.
“I’m just really looking forward to getting the opportunity to play at the next level, and I’m going to do anything I can to help the team win,” Johnson said. “ICC is a great school. It’s close to home. I know a lot of people who go there, and I’ve been to a lot of the baseball camps in the best. I really enjoyed being around the coaching staff and the players.”
Johnson batted .429 with 38 RBIs for the 2012 season and also racked up an 11-2 record on the mound with 74 strikeouts and a 2.24 ERA.
Hatley coach John Harris called Johnson his “go-to guy.”
“Whenever we were in trouble last year, we went to Russ, and he was there for us a number of times,” Harris said. “He’s a very humbled, well-rounded young man who’s a max effort kid. He brings it day in and day out and lets his actions speak for him. It’s big for our program. Hopefully our kids can see the reward for all the hard work we do and that will help them to continue to work harder.”
Collier said he knew early on he wanted to sign Johnson for the 2014 season.
“He’s one of the better middle infielders in the area, and he’s a two-way guy. We look for him contributing on the mound and up the middle in the infield,” Collier said.
Poole, a center fielder and starting pitcher and another Daily Journal All-Area selection, earned Division MVP honors while leading the Panthers to the Division 1-4A title last season and .306 with a .425 on-base percentage and 12 RBIs. He was a member of the 2010 4A runnerup team and the 2011 North State runnerup team.
“It feels great to know I’ll be an Indian next year. They have a strong program. The coaching staff is great, and they’re always winning,” Poole said. “I’m looking forward to doing what I can to help them continue that.”
Collier called Poole one of the district’s top outfielders.
“We’re losing a lot of outfielders, and he can run the ball down extremely well in center field. We look to put him out there and let him roam and catch them all,” Collier said.
Hahn, a third baseman and pitcher, joined the Panthers last season after transferring from New Hope and batted .291 with a .431 on-base percentage and earned earned All-Division honors and was named Defensive Player of the Year.
“It feels great to know I’ll be an Indian next year. It’s something you look forward to your whole life, getting to play college baseball. The moment has finally come, and it feels amazing,” Hahn said. “It was close to home, and they’ve always been a great baseball program. I just wanted to be a part of it.”
Collier said he enjoyed getting guys who could play two ways like Hahn.
“He has good velocity on his fastball. Anytime you can get a guy who’s two-way, it adds extra punch to your program,” Collier said.
Amory coach Chad Williams said both Poole and Hahn have been clutch for the Panthers, both on the mound and in the field. Poole posted a 0.96 ERA with 70 strikeouts for a 6-2 record on the season, while Hahn finished with a 2.50 ERA with 67 strike outs for a 4-3 record in 9 appearances.
“Destin came to us last year. He had transferred from New Hope. He was a very big player for us last year, and I’m looking forward to big things out of him this year,” Williams said. “Tanner has been here his entire career and started for us as a freshmen. We’re looking forward to big things out of him also. Both of them were leaders for our team.”

TCPS’ Carter signs with Indians
By Adam Gore
Itawamba Community College head baseball coach Rick Collier picked up his first signee of the 2013 signing class when Tupelo Christian Prep right-handed pitcher and Amory nativeDrew Carter signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball for the Indians on Tuesday.
“We are excited about getting Drew,” said Collier. “He is one of the top arms in the area that can fill up the strike zone.”
As a junior, Carter has a 2.91 ERA in 53 innings pitched with 72 strike outs for a 5-4 record with 7 starts in 13 appearances with a .894 fielding percentage.
“I’m so excited to sign with ICC,” said Carter. “Going to ICC and playing with a great program and with great coaches that will make me work hard to strengthen all my abilities.”
He recorded a season-high 11 strike outs against Itawamba AHS and West Union High School and had 10 strike outs against St. Joseph High School.
Carter won the 2011 Prep Division MVP at the Ole Miss Pitching Camp and played for the Class 4A state championship as a member of the Amory Panthers baseball team.