What do you call a player who hits .390 in March with five doubles, three home runs and 13 RBI – not mention a 3-1 record from the mound with 26 strikeouts and a 1.13 ERA? Easy…Sports601’s Powerade Player of the Month (March).
South Jones baseball standout John Mitchell seemingly did it all in March, including a stellar job as a centerfielder when he wasn’t getting the job done on the mound.
“My stats are just a testament to the guys around me, especially on the mound,” said the senior Brave. “I’m a pitch-to-contact kind of guy. I don’t strike [opponents] out a lot, so my teammates played great defense behind me every time.
“And at the plate, the ball’s just seemed bigger to me. It’s been a good month.”
Braves head coach Jordan Rogers said it all started for Mitchell during the Brandon game back on March 12th in Stringer.
“[Since that game] he seemed to keep answering the bell every week,” added Rogers. “He has that presence around him in the lineup.
“You also have to credit the guys around him, too, whether it be Conliff, Howard, Ducksworth or Diers. They’re putting so much pressure on opponents that they don’t know if they want to throw to Mitchell or not. He punishes the ball when they throw to him and when they don’t, our other guys are getting it done.”
Mitchell’s most memorable March game – strangely enough – came in a loss to West Jones. Mitchell tossed eight innings worth in the extra-inning contest, allowing just one run on seven Mustang hits. Several times he pitched out of jams with the bases loaded or multiple runners in scoring position to keep South Jones in the game.
“Bad things are going to happen,” said Mitchell. “I kind of pride myself on not letting one bad thing lead to two, and two to three. In the seventh inning [of that game], we were in a jam. There comes a time when you have to put your foot down and say no or let the game get away from you. The guys behind me make great plays, and we were able to get out of the inning and keep the game alive.
“He’s a competitor,” said Rogers. “He’s such a competitor that when he’s on the mound, he always gives us a chance. He bells us out a lot of times. The West Jones game is one that sticks out to me. It’s fun to watch.”
The multi-sport star signed a football scholarship with UT Martin in the off-season. Mitchell, who has also been selected to play in the Mississippi Baseball All-Star game in June, along with teammate and Jones College signee Tyler Ducksworth, says baseball is going to be hard to give up.
“I talked about that today with coach,” said Mitchell. “It’s going to be hard to give up. I’m looking forward to going to [UT] Martin but every day as the end of the season approaches, the harder it seems to give it up.”
As the playoff approaches, seniors like Mitchell have their eye on Hattiesburg – a potential first-round opponent.
“There’s a chance we could play Hattiesburg in the first round,” said Mitchell. “I know us seniors are looking forward to that. The last three years, they’ve been the team that’s sent us home. But we’re trying to take things one game at a time.”
Also to note: the righty has issued just four walks in March, having faced 88 batters from the bump.
Mitchell and the Braves are currently 18-5 overall, and 6-2 in Region 5-5A.