May 1, 2009
Sometimes, for whatever reason, players who appear to have an unlimited upside go unnoticed.
Devin Malone is one of those players.
The West Lowndes High School senior showcased his skills on the court earlier this year as he helped lead the school''s boys basketball team to the Class 1A state tournament in Jackson.
Malone hopes to play a similar role with the West Lowndes High''s baseball team.
The senior outfielder/pitcher has played a key role in helping the Panthers advance to face St. Aloysius in the third round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A playoffs.
Next year, Malone will get a chance to help his college team reach the postseason.
On Thursday, Malone signed a national letter of intent to play baseball at Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale.
"I was looking at baseball all of the way," said Malone, who has only been playing the sport for four years. "I decided I wanted to go to Coahoma two days ago and I told my mother and she told me to make my own decision."
The recruiting process took less than a week after Coahoma C.C. coach Christopher Fair called West Lowndes High baseball coach Todd Stanley to see if he had any outfielders he could recommend to him.
Stanley didn''t hesitate to suggest the 6-foot-4, lanky Malone, who has plenty of room to mature physically and as a baseball player.
"He has improved so much since the ninth grade," Stanley said. "He has always been able to play defensively, but he has improved night and day in his hitting the last three years."
Stanley said Malone would visit the batting cage before and after basketball practice to work on his swing. The work has paid off this season, as Malone is hitting .532 with four doubles, four triples, one home run, and 21 RBIs.
"I have been hitting the ball really well this year," said Malone, who also is 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA. "I have spent a lot of time in the batting cage getting my eye right."
Malone will rejoin former West Lowndes High standout Demarcus Rives at Coahoma C.C. His goal is to use his time at a two-year school to earn an opportunity to continue his baseball career at a four-year school.
"I felt confident I would be able to realize this goal," Malone said. "I found baseball to be easier than basketball. I don''t know why. I just seemed easy to me."
Stanley said Malone has the size, versatility, and the potential to accomplish that goal. He said Malone can pitch, play outfield, and play first base and catcher.
Malone feels he projects as an outfielder and a pitcher, but he is willing to play wherever he is needed.
Stanley, who has had eight seniors have an opportunity to sign baseball scholarships in the past two seasons, is looking forward to watching Malone mature and make a name for himself.
"He deserves everything he gets because he has made himself a tremendous hitter," Stanley said.
n West Lowndes senior D.Q. Farmer was recently selected to play in the Crossroads Diamond Club All-Star Game on June 6 at Trustmark Park.
Farmer will play in the Class 1A, 2A, and 3A game.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.