May 13, 2009
Garrett Harris is looking forward to pitching for the University of South Alabama baseball team.
But before he does, his focus is on taking care of unfinished business at Meridian Community College.
Harris, a 2006 graduate of New Hope High School who has signed with South Alabama, welcomes an opportunity to pitch for MCC in the NJCAA South Central District Tournament.
MCC (37-17) plays Thursday and Friday in the district tournament at Maple Woods College in Kansas City, Mo.
"It''s going to be awesome," Harris said. "The weather isn''t going to be as hot as it is down here, so that''s going to be a plus. I think I''m scheduled to start Game 3, which hopefully will be the championship game if we do what we''re supposed to do and win the first two."
Harris, who redshirted as a freshman at Southern Miss before transferring to MCC, is accustomed to taking the ball in meaningful games. He was a conference starter on the weekends and he started the championship game of the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament in Baton Rouge, La.
The winner of the district tournament advances to the NJCAA World Series, and Harris likes MCC''s chances.
"I believe we''re just starting to play to the best of our ability," Harris said. "All year we''ve been up and down and up and down. I think we''re just starting to click. Our hitting and pitching and defense is starting to show up in the same game. If we continue to do that, there''s no telling how far we can go."
Harris is 5-3 with a 5.53 ERA in 55 1/3 innings in 10 games. He has struck out 47 and walked 13.
"He''s very talented," MCC coach Chris Rose. "He throws the fastball in the mid to upper 80s and hits 90, 91. He has a good breaking ball. He''s one of the hardest workers on our pitching staff, if not the hardest. He makes our whole pitching staff better."
Rose said Harris has pitched well all season and his record and ERA are deceiving.
"He''s had a couple of, I guess you could say, bad breaks," Rose said. "He''s pitched better than his stats allow. He''s pitched very well. We struggled early in the year scoring runs and playing defense. His stats aren''t bad. He''s performed much better than his stats show."
Rose points to the championship game of the Region 23 Tournament as an example of Harris pitching better than the stats indicate.
Harris started the championship game and he allowed eight runs and 10 hits in five innings. MCC defeated Delgado Community College 15-10 in 13 innings.
"That was one of those games where they scored a few in the first by hitting balls that found holes," Rose said. "If they hit it hard, I bet they hit it hard only two times all day. They hit hoppers right through the four hole (second base) and through the six hole (shortstop). He pitched well. He wasn''t the reason they scored all those runs. They had good luck on their side."
Harris also believes his numbers in the championship game didn''t do him justice.
"I feel like that was one of my best outings all year," Harris said. "I hit my spots pretty well. I was getting a lot of ground balls. I left a few balls up and they got a few hits, but I was pleased, coach Rose was pleased, and all the assistant coaches were pleased. It gave ourselves a chance to win."
Rose said MCC wouldn''t be where it is this season without Harris on the mound.
"He''s matured a lot, both on the mound and as a leader of our team, from last year to this year," Rose said. "He has gotten his confidence back. He has pitched in almost all of our bigger games. He started many of the games we won to win our conference."
Harris hopes to have another big win in him in the district tournament that helps MCC make it to the World Series.
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1. New Hope boys shock Oxford for region title HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. MSU baseball gives Cannizaro first career victory COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Tupelo squads sweep Columbus for pair of region titles HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. No. 3 MSU women face huge test at Texas A&M COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Area basketball teams begin postseason play Monday HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS