By Brandon Speck
BELDEN – It took a move down for J.G. Lipscomb to grow up. Not vertically, as the Tupelo Christian senior pitcher is already a 6-foot-1, 170-pounder.
But when his delivery dropped down over the summer, his game rose up. The Northwest CC signee switched things up and earned Perfect Game USA All-American Honorable Mention.
“When he was up top, he was not effective,” TCPS coach Will Lowrey said. “He threw it straight and really wouldn’t use his body. If he does that last spring, we’re state champions. He was the missing link.”
Lipscomb made only three appearances on the mound last season, mainly because the Eagles couldn’t afford to lose his value at shortstop. He hit .386 as TCPS lost in the North 1A finals. That team lost eight starters.
This team isn’t supposed to be very good just yet, but the Eagles have started division play with two wins, at Smithville, which many think of as the state title favorite, and against Hamilton. The 4-8 mark is tricky because it has come against a gauntlet that includes Grenada, DeSoto Central, Pascagoula and Sumrall.
Lipscomb will have a lot to do with the success of a team with five and six freshmen and sophomores in the starting lineup. He is just 2-2, but the first losses were against the Class 6A favorite, Division I-loaded DeSoto Central, and Pascagoula.
He has earned two straight wins against Mooreville and Smithville, with 18 strikeouts in the victories – 12 of those against Smithville. He has 30 Ks, has walked four, one each in four games, and has a 1.91 ERA.
Dominating on the hill, but still thinking like a shortstop.
“My goal is to hit above .500,” Lipscomb said, “next year, be a good college baseball player and pitch some.”
Pitching is crucial
With TCPS hitting only .196, Lipscomb at a .486 clip, pitching will be continue to be a key, especially behind three seniors, Lipscomb, Devin Orr and Israel Foster. Plus, freshman John Mark Jolly and sophomore Austin Laney are dropping down on the mound, too – and throwing strikes.
Lipscomb is quickly moving up the list of 1A’s most dominant pitchers. Lowrey thinks his ace can pitch more than just some.
“With him dropping down in that three-quarter slot on the left-handed side, he has come out burning it,” Lowrey said. “J.G. is way under the radar. In my opinion, I put him up against any shortstop in the state. You throw in pitching, 84-85 (MPH) from down under, he is deadly when he gets ahead in the count.”