Photo/James Pugh

From the age of four, Dustin Dickerson has been around baseball and the big leagues. His dad, Bobby Dickerson, a Laurel native who played collegiate baseball for Nicholls State and was later drafted by the New York Yankees in the 23rd round of the 1987 Major League Baseball Draft, is a former minor league manager and current third base coach for the Baltimore Orioles. 

“I’ve been around the game since I was four,” said Dickerson. “My dad has taken me inside the clubhouses, on the field and I’ve even taken infield with the big leaguers. I’ve learned how to play and how to grow in the game because of that.”

This week the West Jones baseball standout announced his commitment to play at the next level. “Excited to announce that I have committed to the University of Southern Mississippi to continue my education and baseball career! #SMTTT,” said Dickerson in a tweet on social media. 

“First of all I would like to thank God for blessing me with the talent I have,” said Dickerson a day after announcing the news. “[Southern Miss] is right here in my backyard and all my friends and family can come and watch me play.”

He had planned to announce his commitment at the end of the summer, but in the last week decided to change course.

“I told myself I was going to wait and commit at the end of the summer,” Dickerson added, “but I’ve been thinking hard about it and wanted to get it all off my shoulders.”

Dickerson has been a starter for the West Jones baseball program since his freshman year. The incoming senior holds a .283 career batting average, including an impressive .333 junior season. 

As a junior, Dickerson helped West Jones (27-5) advance to the MHSAA Class 5A South State Championship series for just the fourth time in school history, not only as a talented shortstop but as its ace on the mound. Last season he finished 8-1 from the mound in 14 appearances with a 1.18 ERA and led all Mustang pitchers with 83 strikeouts in 66.1 innings pitched. 

His glove, though, is what helped Dickerson earn several JUCO and Division 1 offers. His highest fielding percentage (.957) came last year as a junior, committing just four errors on 82 total chances. Dickerson is .943 overall in three seasons as West Jones’ starting shortstop. 

Beside Southern Miss, Dickerson’s other D1 offers included Nicholls State, Mississippi State and Louisiana Tech. 

The now Southern Miss commit says his growth in the game is partially due to a former Southern Miss baseball standout. 

“Coach [Trey] Sutton has pushed me to be a better player,” Dickerson said. “He’s always made sure I was on the top of my game.”

Sutton played at West Jones in the early 2000s and later for the Golden Eagles from 2005-2008. He still holds the career hits record at Southern Miss with 327. 

Dickerson has one more season at West Jones and has high hopes for it.

“We’ve been playing some summer ball and working out every week,” said Dickerson. “One of my primary goals is to bring a title to West Jones, especially for Coach Sutton. He’s been so close as a player at West Jones and as a coach. 

“I think next year we will have the team to do it.”