October 1, 2009 9:25:00 AM
HAMILTON -- Chase Reeves didn''t have a plan in mind last weekend.
The Hamilton High School junior was content to visit Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi and to listen to what the coaches had to say about their schools and their baseball programs.
But after shaking off the initial surprise of receiving a scholarship offer, Reeves'' plan changed immediately.
His decision Sunday to give a verbal commitment to attend Ole Miss solidified a life-long dream to attend the school and to play baseball in college.
"It was like a dream come true," Reeves said of the scholarship offer from the Rebels. "The facilities are nice and I love the coaches. Coach (Mike) Bianco is one of the winningest coaches in the Southeastern Conference since he has been there. It wasn''t a hard decision once they offered."
Reeves is coming off a standout high season in which he was a team leader in batting average, runs scored, triples, home runs, RBIs, walks, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.
The left-handed hitting pitcher and hitter teamed last season with then-junior Dylan Earnest to give the Lions (21-7) one of the state''s top pitching tandems.
Reeves entered the final playoff series against Water Valley with zero earned runs allowed. He pitched in Hamilton''s 6-5 loss in game one of the best-of-three series and took the loss as the Lions surrendered five unearned runs.
Reeves said the Rebels'' plan is to have him play outfield and be an everyday hitter. He said the chance will be there for him to see some time on the mound.
Reeves said a strong showing on the summer ball circuit, especially at the State Games at Meridian and at a baseball showcase in East Cobb, Ga., helped him attract attention from college coaches.
"I guess (the coaches) like what they saw (at those two events)," Reeves said. "(The Ole Miss coaches) Kind of knew who I was because I went to camps there when I was younger, but I am sure it helps when you do good against competition like that."
Reeves'' father, Marc, said his son had visited Southern Miss and had attracted interest from several other Division I schools. He said the opportunity to continue to watch his son play baseball relatively close to home is a blessing.
Reeves, who grew up in a family that watched and enjoyed Ole Miss sorts, said it is an added bonus that Chase will be a Rebel.
"I told him to pick a school wherever he was going to be happy because he is the one who is going to be in school for four years, not me," Marc Reeves said. "He has been an Ole Miss fan since he has been able to walk. He enjoyed the facilities, which were outstanding, and Ole Miss did a first-class job all of the way around."
Hamilton High coach Lewis Earnest said Reeves'' decision to commit to a college as a junior will help him relax and have fun the rest of his high school and his prep baseball career.
"I think he is just going to get better," Earnest said. "He has all of the tools it takes to play at that level. He is pretty natural. He is a left-hander hitter who has a great swing and he has power. They have seen him in all of the camps and showcases and in summer ball, so they know he can hit."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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