In more ways than one, Joe Gray and Dexter Jordan are like brothers. Together, the star-studded duo leaves a legacy at Hattiesburg High School that will never be touched. Also, they’re the very best of friends and very seldom not found with one another.
That will change soon with Gray heading to play at Ole Miss and Jordan at Louisiana-Lafayette. Or, depending on where they’re selected in the upcoming 2018 MLB Draft, they could be getting a head start on their pro careers.
One thing for sure is that their time in a Tiger uniform has come and gone. For Gray and Jordan, that realization didn’t fully set in until after their graduation, a day after they helped lead Hattiesburg to its first state baseball title since 2006.
“It hit the both of us Saturday morning, the fact that we won’t be at this campus anymore,” said Gray. “We’ll be around the community, but not as a player. It’s a bit of a realization we had to come to.”
They certainly leave Hattiesburg’s program better than they found it. Billed as potential superstars early, they lived up to all the hype and delivered prep careers to remember. It all culminated in 2018, when the Tigers finished the job at Trustmark Park.
In 36 games, Gray batted .491 with 52 hits and six home runs, all of which were team-leading. The Ole Miss signee added 36 RBI and a 5-0 record on the mound. Jordan, the team’s pitching ace, compiled a 7-3 record with a 1.46 earned run average and 61 strikeouts. At the plate, the Louisiana-Lafayette signee batted .411 with a team-leading 50 RBI.
For achieving that individual success and leading Hattiesburg to a Class 5A State Championship, Gray and Jordan have been named our Sports601 Hattiesburg Baseball Co-Players of the Year.
“It really means a lot to me and Joe,” said Jordan of the honor. “Four years of hard work and getting to this point with the team behind us seniors, it really means a lot getting this award. Coach [Joe] Hartfield pushed us to limit to be better players and better men in general now that we’re leaving high school.”
“Joe and Dexter, they’re the two best players I’ve coached here at Hattiesburg High,” added Hartfield. “That’s clear to say, and I’ve coached some good ones.”
Now, with their high school careers over, it’s really just a waiting game until June 4, the date both recognize and keep in the back of their heads. That’s when the 2018 MLB Draft will start. Names will be called early and often, and both are optimistic they’ll hear theirs sooner rather than later, especially after working out for the Brewers and Dodgers together recently.
“For both of us it looks positive. But at the end of the day, you never know what’s going to happen, especially with the draft, because people like who they like,” said Gray. “You can’t go off projections, because a team could pick a kid that was number one on another team’s list, and that could’ve been a number five on another team’s list.
“You just don’t know what’s the deal or what happens. We just gotta be ready for whatever happens.”
Either way, Gray and Jordan will be moving away from Hattiesburg soon. But don’t expect them to forget their city.
“Everyone looks up to us, and that’s the kind of legacy you want to provide. And I promise you this, it ain’t over,” said Gray. “The next few years, me and Dex are definitely going to give back to the community. We’ll make sure to do that no matter what, because we wouldn’t be who we are without the fuel we were given by this community.”
“No matter where we go next year, we’ll always be Hattiesburg Tigers forever,” added Jordan. “We love Hattiesburg, and nobody can take that from us.”