January 16, 2013 2:35:34 PM
Landon Boyd doesn't look like a 180-pounder.
A year ago, the New Hope High School standout wouldn't have been able to keep a straight face and tell people that's how much he weighed. Even his brother, Lee, would have laughed at him if he tried to say that. In fact, Lee Boyd probably would challenge his brother's latest weighty claim.
But Landon Boyd can point to the hard work he has put in in the weight room for helping him to gain 10 pounds and to prepare him for his senior season with the New Hope High baseball team. Boyd's ability to add that much weight in one season is a testament to the potential the right-hander has to continue to mature.
Northeast Mississippi Community College baseball coach Kent Farris saw that potential, which is why he wanted to add Boyd to his program. On Tuesday, Farris accomplished his goal when Boyd signed a scholarship to play baseball at NEMCC in Booneville.
"He is just another great player from a quality school and was coached by a exceptional coach," Farris said in a statement on the school's website. "We got just what we needed on the opening day of signing with a pitcher, and he will definitely be an asset to our program."
Last season, Boyd was 8-3 with a 2.33 ERA. In 72 1/3 innings he surrendered 55 hits and walked 34 while striking out 79. He also hit .233 with 13 RBIs and eight doubles.
As a sophomore, Boyd hit .340 with 18 RBIs and three doubles as a sophomore. He also went 7-1 with a 4.80 ERA. In 54 innings, he allowed 50 hits and 34 walks. He struck out 76.
Boyd feels the weight he added from last season is just part of his potential. He also feels he has plenty of room to grow as a baseball player and as a pitcher.
"I think as long as I keep working I can throw my fastball harder and maybe I can go to the next level," Boyd said. "That is still a ways away and I am just focusing on what I am doing now. I still have a high school senior year, and there is nothing like that. We have a great team and great friends here. We're all buds and we're real close, and that's what makes us a tight-knit group."
Landon Boyd has known coach Farris since he was little. Lee Boyd said Landon used to ride the field tractor, or Gator, with Farris to help prepare the baseball field before and after practices. He credited Farris for expressing a lot of interest in him and staying in contact. He said he is looking forward to playing for Farris.
"I like the town around the school and the campus is nice. That all was a big influence on me going there," Boyd said.
Farris coached baseball for several seasons at New Hope High. He was on coach Stacy Hester's staff when Landon's brother, Lee, the current New Hope High baseball coach, was a senior at the school.
Lee Boyd said he gave his brother the room he needed to make his decision. He said it is comforting to know Landon is going to a school with a solid program and an even better coach.
"I think he picked a great spot to play baseball," Boyd said. "Knowing coach Farris and the type of program he runs and the type of person he is what influenced his decision."
Boyd feels his brother's potential to fill out his 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame helped him attract attention from college coaches. He said he still kids Landon about being a "stringbean," but that he knows Landon has some room to grow. As a former player at East Mississippi C.C. and the University of West Alabama, Lee Boyd knows his brother will work on good weight program that he feels will help him increase his velocity from the low to mid 80s into the upper 80s.
"With the right kind of long-toss program, by growing, and with the right kind of weight program maybe he can turn out to be something special," Boyd said. "He has done a great job for us. I hope can do for us what he did last year. I think (signing) gets him to relax and know that he has a chance to play college ball and not worry about his numbers so much and enjoy his senior year.
"His changeup has been his best pitch for the past three or four years. We just hope to continue to do that. If they go to college and they want to tweak a few things to get college hitters out, they may do that. I am a high school guy. If it is working here, we're not going to change anything about him as far as what he did last year. We are just going to try to fine-tune him and keep him sharp."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.