Photo by Robert Smith

By Robert Wilson

       Madison-Ridgeland Academy hasn’t won a MAIS state baseball championship since 2016, but if junior first baseman-designated hitter Corey Watkins hits like he did last week, the Patriots might bring another state title home this month.

       The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Watkins hit .667 (6 of 9 at-bats) with 3 home runs, 1 double, 7 runs scored, and 7 runs batted in in three games last week.

       For his outstanding performance, Watkins has been named the PriorityOne Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Baseball Player of the Week.

       Watkins had a home run, 3 runs scored and 2 RBIs in a 12-9 victory over Hartfield Academy in Game 1 of its best of three game MAIS Class 6A series. He had a double, 2 runs scored and 2 RBIs in a 10-0 win in Game 2. Watkins had 2 home runs, 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored in a 6-5 loss in Game 3.

       The series determined second place in the 6A regular season race and also who received a first-round bye in the 6A state playoffs.

       Watkins is hitting .420 with 37 RBIs, 30 runs scored, 10 doubles, 2 triples and 9 home runs this season. He leads the team in RBIs, doubles and home runs and tied for the lead in triples. Watkins also leads the team with a .532 on base percentage and a .896 slugging percentage. A right-handed hitter, but left-handed pitcher, Watkins has also thrown 9 2/3 innings with a 1-0 record and a 3.62 earned run average and 12 strikeouts.

       He is hitting .565 (13 of 23 at-bats) over the last eight games.

Watkins is four home runs short of tying the school record by Scott Polk for most home runs in a season. Polk hit 13 home runs as a junior in 1993.

       “Corey is high energy guy for us who sparks our team with encouraging teammates and with his bat,” MRA coach Allen Pavatte said. “Corey has been a consistent hitter in our lineup, especially in conference play this season. He has been solid all season.”

MRA, 21-10, is the No. 2 seed behind nationally-ranked and five-time defending 6A state champion Jackson Prep, in the 6A playoffs. The Patriots earned a first-round bye this week. MRA meets No. 3 seed Hartfield, 24-8, next week in the semifinals. Hartfield defeated No. 6 seed Parklane Academy in two games this week. MRA has won 10 of its last 12 games.

       Watkins hit .296 with three home runs and had a 2-1 pitching record with a team-high four saves and helped MRA to a 36-6 record and its third straight 6A state runner-up finish last season as a sophomore.

Coaches can nominate their players by calling or texting Robert Wilson at 601.506.2276. Only players who play for teams in Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties are eligible.