Photo/James Pugh

Call it déjà vu. Another West Jones shortstop wearing the No. 5 jersey signs with Southern Miss. 

Fifteen years after Trey Sutton – now Mustang head baseball coach and former West Jones shortstop who also wore the No. 5 jersey and signed with Southern Miss in 2003 – current senior shortstop Dustin Dickerson followed the same path Wednesday morning inside the school’s Media Center.

“It’s always been my dream to play Division 1 baseball,” said Dickerson. “Today it finally came true.”

Dickerson comes from baseball blood, his dad, Bobby Dickerson, is the third-base coach for the Baltimore Orioles. Before coaching in the big leagues, Bobby was drafted in the 23rd round of the 1987 MLB draft by the New York Yankees out of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Dustin also held an offer from Nicholls State, as well as Mississippi State, Tulane, Louisiana Tech and several Mississippi junior colleges.

The senior shortstop cited multiple reasons for signing with Southern Miss. 

“My coach [Trey Sutton] went there – a Hall-of-Famer and superstar,” said Dickerson. “It’s in my backyard. All my friends and family can come and watch me play.

When asked about the similarities between him and Sutton, Dickerson jokingly said, “maybe I can do a little bit better than him.” 

“Today was a little weird,” laughed the former Southern Miss slugger. “Having played and graduated from here and wore No. 5 and played shortstop here, there’s a lot of funny similarities. It brings back memories of the day I signed with Southern Miss [at West Jones]. It was kinda cool to see.”

Dickerson was a fixture in the West Jones lineup when Sutton took over the program in 2016. 

“When I took over, we had a solid sophomore class that year,” Sutton said. “Now they’re all seniors. They’ve played a lot and this upcoming year is a veteran bunch. 

“Dustin, specifically, is about as elite of a defender at the shortstop position as you’re going to find at his age. Seeing what he does day in and day out defensively is fun to watch. His bat is coming along. He’s gotten faster and stronger in the offseason, so I look for him to have a big year for us.”

As a junior last season, Dickerson fielded a .957 percentage at shortstop and batted .333 at the plate with 31 hits and three home runs in 93 recorded at bats. He batted in 22 runs and scored 25. 

His play at shortstop isn’t the only thing to note either. Used in a team-high 14 games on the mound last season, Dickerson led West Jones with an 8-1 record and a 1.19 ERA. He allowed 21 runs in 66.1 innings pitched and struck out a team-high 83 batters. 

“I definitely think we’re the favorite in 5A for the upcoming [2019] season,” said Dickerson. “We’re loaded with talent. If we put it together, it will be our year.”

Dickerson is the third Mustang to sign a baseball scholarship in the offseason. Just a few weeks ago, teammates Garrett McLaurin and Kris Riley signed with Mississippi junior colleges. A few more are expected to sign, including Colson Harris, who recently committed to Jones College where his older brother, Hudson Harris, also played.