By Will Kollmeyer/LetsGoICC.com
Itawamba Community College sophomores Ben Hudspeth of Tupelo, Tyler Tipton of Shelbyville, Ky. and Dylan Earnest of Hamilton all signed Division I baseball scholarships Wednesday on the first day of the NCAA early signing period.
Hudspeth and Tipton both inked national letters of intent with SEC schools, Mississippi State and Kentucky respectively, while Earnest signed with Southeastern Louisiana.
Last year, Hudspeth earned National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) First-Team All-American honors after finishing his freshman campaign with an 11-0 record along with a 1.82 ERA, which ranked him 13th among NJCAA pitchers; 65 strikeouts and a save in 74 innings of work. Hudspeth, whose 11 wins were the third most in the nation, also garnered MACJC All-State and NJCAA All-Region 23 honors last spring. Just moments after the right-hander signed, he received a phone call from MSU head coach John Cohen.
Hudspeth will join his former Indian battery mate Zack Randolph of Amory, who signed with the Bulldogs during last year’s early signing period, which makes 11-straight seasons that at least one of ICC head coach Rick Collier’s baseball players have signed with an SEC program, the longest current streak in the state.
Tipton, a right-handed hitting shortstop, is also headed to the SEC next year. The Kentucky signee batted .257 with seven doubles, one home run, 19 RBI and 26 runs scored in 136 at bats. He led the team with 11 stolen bases and finished the season with a .367 on-base percentage.
Earnest, a left-handed pitcher who is a former Louisville Slugger High School All-American while at Hamilton, sported a 5-3 mark with a 4.30 ERA and led ICC’s staff in strikeouts (71) to innings pitched (68) ratio.
All three of these D’1 signees helped lead the Indians (39-13) to the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division championship and the semifinals of both the MACJC State and NJCAA Region 23 Tournaments last spring.