Keel, Hollis sign with No. 1 Jones JC Bobcats
A chance to play for the nation’s top junior college baseball programs, while also playing with a high school teammate, was too much for Lafayette’s Josh Keel and T.J. Hollis to pass up.
The duo signed scholarships with Jones Junior College Monday in the Lafayette Middle School library, setting up two more years of playing with one another.
“The facilities were really nice, they were nicest facilities we’ve visited. I really enjoyed the coaches. They were helpful and nice and explained things really well,” said Keel, who also looked at Co-Lin and Homes. “Jones definitely stuck out the most for me.”
“I really liked the facilities too. They were really, really nice and the coaches were well spoken and nice and helpful. It just felt right, like it was the best place to go,” Hollis added. “It’s nice to go down there and to have somebody come with you. That where you’re not stuck in some place not knowing anybody and have to completely make new friends. You have somebody to still talk to somebody about back home.”
Keel, who was recruited to play somewhere in the middle infield, thought he was a better second baseman than shortstop, the position he currently plays.
“They said they were limited on their middle infielders,” Keel said.
Hollis is being recruited to pitch, but he could play in the field.
“They told me that they would give me the opportunity to hit and play first if that’s what I wanted to do. I’m going to try it,” Hollis said. “They definitely have a good program and a history of a good program. The philosophy of the coaching staff, it seems like they have a good background to keep winning.”
It’s not often that a Commodore ends up playing so far from home, even with the state without any set districts to sign players from any longer. LHS coach Patrick Robey did help with the connection as he played at Jones. He was also a graduate assistant when Jones head coach Christian Ostrander played at Delta State. Ostrander led the Bobcats to a second-place finish at the Division II World Series in 2011 and this year, the Bobcats are 40-8 overall heading into the MACJC state tournament.
Hollis and Keel were both scouted by Ostrander’s assistant, Eric Patten, when the Commodores hosted Senatobia on a cold night.
“They came and watched us and we went down on a visit a few days later,” Hollis said. “We went two weeks ago Thursday. He said Coach Robey called him for us.”
“They said they usually don’t kids from up here because of the competing schools and the distance. He heard some good things about us and came a took a look at us,” Keel added.
“I guess that’s the beauty of the Delta State program, having so many guys in coaching,” Robey said of how the relationship worked out for his players. “They’re just good kids, good players and they’re going to going to fit in anywhere. Jones is a great program. I’m just glad they’re getting that opportunity. They will be big assets down there.”