There were a mix of old and new faces on this year’s Premier Preps baseball team, a mix of top-tier high school hitters and dominant pitchers — and guys who could do both.
The 2019 Premier Preps of East Mississippi baseball team features 11 players who were standouts not just for their teams, but also for our area. Here are a few fun facts that show how skilled and unique this year’s group of baseball players were.
2 — No pitch: Number of players on the team who didn’t spend much time on the mound, if at all. West Lauderdale’s Austin Davidson and Braden Luke didn’t pitch for the Knights this season, which meant every other player on this list tossed at least some innings for their respective teams during the season. Most of the pitchers also played infield when not on the mound, though NCA’s Kemp Alderman and West Lauderdale’s Ben Ethridge also saw time in the outfield, and Northeast Lauderdale’s Brock Butler caught for the Trojans when not pitching.
4 — Number of 2019 selections who made last year’s Premier Preps team: Brock Butler of Northeast Lauderdale, Kemp Alderman of Newton County Academy and Kameron Partridge and Ben Ethridge of West Lauderdale were all on the 2018 Premier Preps baseball team. For good measure, Alderman made the team in 2017 as well, and Kidd was a 2017 selection before missing the 2018 season due to an injury.
9 — Number of players on the team who hit more than .400: NCA’s Kemp Alderman led the pack with a .578 average, followed by West Lauderdale’s Braden Luke at .518. It’s also worth noting Union’s Jaylon Buckley barely missed the cut, as he finished with a .397 average.
7 — Number of players who have signed to play sports in college: Southeast Lauderdale’s Zach Flaskamp and Dakota Boney will continue their baseball careers at Jones College and East Mississippi Community College, respectively, while West Lauderdale’s Kameron Partridge will also play for Jones College next spring. The Knights’ Austin Davidson signed a football scholarship with Arkansas-Monticello, and teammate Ben Ethridge signed with Southern Mississippi. Lamar’s Eli Eakes is headed to Northeast Mississippi CC. NCA junior Kemp Alderman is currently committed to Ole Miss.
309 — Team RBIs: As a team, the Premier Preps players drove in 302 runs this past season. NCA’s Kemp Alderman led the team with 41 RBIs while River Kidd had 35 RBIs. Four other members of the team had more than 30 RBIs, led by Braden Luke (37), Ben Etheridge (35), Brock Butler (31) and Jaylon Buckley (30).
670 — Team strikeouts: As a team, the Premier Preps players had an astounding 670 strikeouts on the mound. West Lauderdale’s Ben Etheridge easily led the team with 121 strikeouts while Union’s Jaylon Buckley was second with 90. Southeast’s Zach Flaskamp had 86 strikeouts while NCA’s Kemp Alderman had 84 Ks for the Generals.
Newton County Academy
Why he’s here: Alderman, an Ole Miss commit, helped the Geneals to a berth in the MAIS Class AA South State title series. He finished with a .569 average, 41 RBIs and 12 home runs while seeing time at catcher, third base, first base, shortstop and in the outfield. As a pitcher, Alderman threw 47 innings with a 2.83 ERA with 90 Ks. He was named MAIS District 3-AA’s MVP.
Why he’s here: Buckley finished with a .397 average and a .619 slugging percentage for the Yellowjackets this season with nine doubles, one triple and one home run. On the mound, he tallied eight wins and 90 strikeouts while only surrendering 12 earned runs, pitching to a 1.83 earned-run average. He was named the best pitcher in Region 4-2A.
Why he’s here: Eakes finished the season with a .478 average with 11 doubles, 18 RBIs and 16 runs scored, as well as four stolen bases. He also had a .958 fielding percentage at first. As a left-handed pitcher, Eakes pitched to a 3.03 earned-run average in 39 1/3 innings of work while striking out 58 batters. He was first-team All-Conference pitcher and is headed to Northeast Mississippi CC.
Why he’s here: Partridge hit .293 for the Knights this past season with four doubles, one home run and 20 runs batted in. As a pitcher, he had a 7-0 record with 98 strikeouts and only seven walks and pitched to a 0.25 earned-run average. Partridge was named to the Region 5-4A first team and signed with Jones College to continue his baseball career.
Why he’s here: A first-team selection in All-Region 5-4A, Butler batted .402 for the Trojans this past season with seven home runs, nine doubles and 31 RBIs good for a .509 on-base percentage and .747 slugging percentage (1.256 on-base plus slug). As a pitcher, he pitched to a 3.92 earned-run average in 25 innings of work and finished the season with a 3-2 record.
Why he’s here: Flaskamp hit .429 for the Tigers this past season and was 6-2 on the mound with a 1.58 earned-run average and 86 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings of work. He threw a no-hitter against Winona and made All-Region this season. An All-Star selection for the Classes 3-4A game, Flaskamp will continue his baseball career at Jones College.
Why he’s here: Kidd was a standout in all facets for the Bulldogs this spring, as he finished with a .438 average, nine doubles, three triples and seven home runs while walking 14 times and striking out only 13 times. As a pitcher, Kidd had a 2.88 earned-run average in 48 2/3 innings of work while striking out 58 batters and finishing with a 5-2 record.
Why he’s here: Davidson hit .419 for the Knights this past season with nine doubles, one triple, two home runs, 22 RBIs and 40 runs scored to help lead West Lauderdale to the state semifinal round of the Class 4A playoffs. He was named first team in Region 5-4A. Also a football player, Davidson signed to continue his football career at Arkansas-Monticello.
Why he’s here: A Southern Miss signee, Ethridge was named the Region 5-4A Pitcher of the Year and was selected to the Crossroads Diamond Club All-Star game. As a pitcher, he finished the season with a 10-0 record, 127 strikeouts, only 10 walks and a 0.51 earned-run average. As a hitter, Ethridge had a .404 average with 12 doubles, one home run and 35 RBIs.
Why he’s here: Boney finished the season with a .409 average and was 5-1 as a pitcher with a 3.10 earned-run average and 66 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings of work. He threw two no-hitters against Forest and Choctaw Central and made the All-Region team this season. An All-Star selection for the Classes 3-4A game, Boney will continue his baseball career at East Mississippi Community College.
Why he’s here: Named the Region 5-4A Player of the Year, Luke batted .474 for West Lauderdale with 13 doubles, six home runs, 37 RBIs and 37 runs scored to help lead the Knights to an appearance in the MHSAA Class 4A state semifinal series. Luke is being recruited by several schools but isn’t committed as of yet.