Former Stone High baseball coach Hayden Cox wasn’t surprised when he heard his former pupil, Tyler Spring, was being heavily recruited.
The former Tomcat ace played an integral role in Jones County Junior College’s NJCAA national championship last season. After the run, offers poured in.
Earlier this month, Spring verbally committed to Alabama over about nine other schools, including Mississippi State and Southern Miss.
“With his size, we always thought he would eventually grow into his body even more,” said Cox, now an assistant coach at St. Martin. “It helps when you get on the college level and get more time in the weight room.
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“He had pretty good velocity for us — 84 to 86 (mph). We heard during his freshman season he was hitting 90.”
Spring said a number of things went into his decision to commit to Alabama.
“They were the first team to talk with me and made it feel like home,” Spring said. “I had a pretty good visit. I felt like it was the right fit for sure.”
JCJC was downright dominant last season, finishing with a 54-9 record. Once the playoffs started, the Bobcats continued to roll, winning 13 of 17 postseason games.
In the NJCAA DII World Series, JCJC steamrolled to a 5-1 mark and the national title. The additional exposure did wonders for the Bobcats’ standouts.
“I think that had a big role in it for everyone here,” said Spring, who is one of a number of Bobcats to recently commit to DI programs. “That was a really big deal and shows what kind of guys we are.”
Spring’s role evolved over the year from long reliever and middle reliever to a stopper/closer role.
“He kind of blossomed in the closer role,” Cox said.
Spring ended up posting a 2-3 record with five saves and a 3.00 ERA in 48 innings as a JCJC freshman.
Cox wasn’t surprised when he heard about Spring’s commitment. He felt that Spring — at 6-foot-6, 190 pounds and armed with a lively fastball — had big potential.
“From being 6-6, he had that arm slot over the top where he’s throwing downhill a lot and had a lot of bite on his breaking ball,” Cox said. “He cuts down the 60 feet, 6 inches in a hurry with his frame.”
Spring said his velocity bumps 92 mph now. While at JCJC, he has added a cutter to his fastball-curveball-changeup mix, which he said helps keep batters guessing.
Spring is the latest Tomcat to head off for major college baseball. Other former Stone High players include Phillip Chandler (Eastern Kentucky), Fred Lewis (Southern University), Chet Batson (Southern Miss) and Desmond O’Quine (UT-Martin).