Marion County will be represented by a trio of West Marion players at the State Games of Mississippi this week.
Rising seniors Josh Boone, Jayden Duncan and Mason Parrett were named to the District 7 roster over the weekend following a two-day tryout and will get to step foot on the diamond Thursday at 5:30 p.m. against District 3 at Meridian Community College. District 7 is led by Trojans head coach Derrick Jerkins with Columbia assistant Ryan Loftin joining him.
Each team is guaranteed at least three games in pool play, with District 7 also playing District 8 at 3 p.m. Friday and District 5 Saturday (game time to be determined). The top team from each pool — District 7 is in Pool 2 along with districts 3, 5 and 8 — will play in a championship game Saturday night at 7.
Jerkins, who knows the trio better than anyone, offered up his take on each of the Trojans.
Boone, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound center fielder, is a really sound baseball player who does a lot things right, according to Jerkins.
“He gets good jumps in the outfield, gets good reads on the ball, is a plus runner and is really balanced at the plate even if he doesn’t have a bunch of pop. He really battles and has good at-bats and makes pitchers work,” Jerkins said. “His best asset is what he does as a base runner. He grinds out and finds out a way to get on base, and once he’s on base he does a really good job at picking up pitchers’ tendencies to steal bags. He’s really good at stealing third base as well.
“He does a lot of stuff right. He’s really hard to strike out and puts together a lot of six, seven, eight-pitch at-bats and really makes the pitcher work to get him out.”
Jerkins said that while it may take two years at the junior college level to fill his body out, but he believes Boone has the potential to play Division I baseball. Jerkins said Boone’s brother and dad are both 6-foot-4, and if Boone continues to grow and fill out his frame without sacrificing speed then playing at a four-year school is definitely within reach.
All 15 Mississippi JUCOs will have coaches at the state games this week, and Jerkins said he believes Boone will have a few scholarship offers by week’s end.
Boone was hitting .444 with 10 stolen bases and nine runs scored through nine games before the 2020 season was canceled. As a sophomore, he hit .350 with a .559 on-base percentage and 21 steals.
Duncan is a 5-foot-11, 210-pound third baseman and pitcher who already has offers from East Mississippi Community College, East Central Community College and Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
“I see him as a dual-guy at the next level,” Jerkins said. “He’ll pitch some and play corner infield. With his frame, he still has a lot more room to put on some strength. I see him as a middle-of-the-order JUCO guy with some big time pop. He’s going to hit a lot of JUCO home runs. Even with his frame right now, he’s not a super strong kid yet. I think he’s got a lot of room to gain some strength. … I think he could also bump up and go D-1. I had him in the bullpen the other day, and he was up to 86 (mph). … He may be a corner infielder and a closer at the next level.”
Over the past three seasons, Duncan has hit .384 with seven career homers and 81 RBI while pitching 119 innings with 127 strikeouts and a 3.35 ERA.
Despite not fitting the traditional mold as a backstop at 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, Parrett is really solid defensively and has a unique profile. Jerkins said twice this summer Parrett has been clocked at 6.6 in the 60-yard dash, which the average major leaguer runs between 6.7 and 6.9.
He added that Parrett is likely to line up against Magee’s Chandler Pittman, who has 16 offers in football including Ole Miss, Florida State and Indiana and is a premier athlete, to run the 60 this week, and he expects it to be an extremely close race.
“He’s made the biggest jump since the spring. … You’ve got a kid with really good speed, especially from the catching position being that athletic, he’s going to get some offers. I see him also going as an outfielder. He’s also been up to 86 (mph) in the bullpen as well. He’s really made a big jump in the last few months. … He’s got some stuff to work out with his swing, but he’s got some pop and can take a really impressive batting practice. He can hit the ball really hard. He has as much pop as anyone on our team, including Jayden.”
Parrett was hitting .385 with two doubles, a triple and 8 RBI and had stolen 11 bases through just nine games in the spring.