By Austin Bishop
The Choctaw Plaindealer
It won’t be long before they have rings on their fingers signifying their part in French Camp Academy’s 2013 MHSAA Class 1A State Football Championship, but Hagan Box and Cole Henson are baseball men at heart.
They got a chance to show that allegiance last Wednesday when they signed baseball scholarships to play for Itawamba Community College next season.
“It has always been a dream of mine to play baseball in college,” Box said. “I played four years of football and really enjoyed it, but baseball is what I wanted to do.”
Henson, who has played on the same team with Box since their little league days, also loves the sound of a ball hitting a bat — unless he happens to be pitching of course.
“Baseball has always been the game I have had a passion for since an early age,” he said. “I like batting, but I also like all of the little things that matter.”
While Henson spends most of his time on the diamond either on the pitcher’s mound or in center field, Box does his work in the middle infield.
“He is really just so smooth out there,” said FCA head baseball coach Nathan Wright, who also happens to coach the football team. “He just knows how to make all the plays and makes it seem so easy.”
Wright said he was excited to see both Box and Henson get a chance to follow their love to the next level.
“They have both been sold out to our program,” Wright said. “You see some kids who work so hard at something for a long time and it’s good when they have success. They have always done everything we have asked them to do, and then some.”
Henson is power hitter and usually hits in the middle of the order for the FCA Panthers, while Box — a switch-hitter — does his work at the top of the line-up.
“After I decided I was serious about playing in college I began to going to camps and things like that,” Henson said. “I’m excited about going to Itawamba, but it makes it even better that my friend is gong with me.”
“We went up there and looked around and checked it out,” he said. “It is one of the best junior college baseball programs in the state.”
ICC has been under the direction of Rick Collier for the past 11 seasons and during that time the Indians have gone 399-176 with two MACJC Championships, two NJCAA Region 23 titles and one NJCAA Super Regional title. Itawamba have qualified for the MACJC playoffs in each of Colliers 11 seasons.
Henson hit .364 for the Panthers last season, with an on-base percentage of .507 and a slugging percentage of .581. He also posted an ERA of 1.71 in 45 innings, while striking out 39.
Box hit .406, reached base at a .494 clip and had a slugging percentage of .492. He stole 12 bases for the Panthers, while going 4-2 on the mound with an ERA of 0.34 and struck out 68 batters in 40.2 innings.