Josh Chism is a true utility player for Itawamba Community College’s No. 4-ranked baseball team.
– He’s a starting pitcher with an 11-1 record.
– He’s a reliever who owns four saves.
– He’s an infielder who starts at second base when he’s not pitching, but can play short and third.
– He can back up catcher Dustin Lunn, if needed.
– He bats No. 2 in the order and produces. He entered the state tournament batting .403 and is the only Indians player to hit safely in all six postseason games.
“The guy can play anywhere,” ICC coach Rick Collier said. “He’s a workhorse. He gets after it and pushes himself to be the best he can be.”
Chism, a sophomore from Mooreville, has confidence in his ability to hit, play the infield and pitch, but gives a lot of the credit for his success to his teammates.
“It’s good to have the guys I have hitting in front and back of me,” he said, referring to his postseason hitting streak. “I’ve seen some good pitches and the balls have fallen for me.”
ICC’s leadoff batter is Ladarrius Cole, one of the nation’s top hitters. The Indians’ No. 3 man is Justin Bryant, an Auburn signee.
On the mound, Chism wins because he mixes his pitches so well, Collier noted.
“The hitter never knows what’s coming,” the coach said. “He loves the competition. He wants the ball in a big game.”
Chism shows the batter two deliveries – over the top and sidearm.
“I throw a lot of off-speed stuff and my change-up has worked well,” he said. “It’s easier to get outs with my off-speed stuff. I will mix in my fastball.
“When my stuff isn’t there, the guys have picked me up.”
Collier is so confident in Chism’s pitching that he plans to start him against top-ranked LSU-Eunice if the two teams meet in the second round of this week’s NJCAA Region 23 Tournament in Eunice, La.
“I know he’ll give us his best and give us a chance to win,” Collier said.
But first, Chism says, the Indians must defeat Hinds in Thursday’s opening round to get a shot at Eunice, the defending Division II national champions.
“I’ve been thinking about them all year,” he admits. “I’m excited about the opportunity, but we’ve got to think about Hinds first.”
ICC defeated Hinds 14-13 on its way to a state championship last weekend in Raymond.
Chism is expected to sign as a pitcher and utility player with Lipscomb University in Nashville, an NCAA Division I program and member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, when the season ends.
“I’ve wanted to play D-I since I played T-ball,” he said. “I played summer ball in Nashville and have seen their facilities. The coaches are great and they want me.
“It’s also a solid academic school and a Christian school, which is important to me.”
But Lipscomb can wait a few more weeks. Chism and his teammates hope to reach the NJCAA College World Series, scheduled for May 23-30 in Enid, Okla.
“I think we’ve got a chance to beat whoever we play,” he said. “Everybody on this team is on the same page.”
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal