Patrick Ochs

Mississippi State’s Drew Windham looks to find groove in summer league

Former Ocean Springs ace Drew Windham spent last season redshirting at Mississippi State. He's pitching this summer for the Valley Baseball League's Purcellville Cannons.
Former Ocean Springs ace Drew Windham spent last season redshirting at Mississippi State. He's pitching this summer for the Valley Baseball League's Purcellville Cannons. Purcellville Cannons

Drew Windham was always in season at Ocean Springs, always busy. When he wasn’t quarterbacking the Greyhounds, he was either pitching or swinging a bat on the diamond.

There was very little down time to speak of for the standout student athlete.

After coming on as a senior at OSHS, Windham caught the attention of recruiters and eventually worked his way onto the Mississippi State baseball team as a pitcher. He had a solid fall ball season, good enough to make the squad, but was redshirted.

Redshirting made for a different spring than Windham was used to, watching and training without games being dangled as the carrot for all the week’s hard work.

But Windham was grateful for the opportunity to wear MSU maroon, even if his official Bulldog debut will have to wait a year.

“It was definitely a major adjustment but I had to realize I’m blessed to even be in this position to redshirt at Mississippi State,” he said Monday. “It’s every kid’s dream to play college baseball, especially in SEC.”

A typical week this spring consisted of working out four times a week — with an emphasis on gaining weight — and then throwing bullpens for pitching coach Gary Henderson mid-week.

The weight program apparently paid off as the 6-foot-2 right-hander was up to around 205 pounds before heading out this summer to focus on pitching for the Purcellville Cannons of the Valley Baseball League.

Summer debut

When Windham made the Bulldogs in the spring he was told he had shown enough during the fall, but the staff wanted to see more, which is where the VBL comes in.

Windham has already made three early starts for the Cannons.

By themselves, Windham’s early stats through three starts — 0-1, 7.50 ERA, 13 strikeouts in 12 innings — aren’t particularly impressive. But a deeper dive shows the redshirt freshman has gotten off to a good start each time only to fade late.

In his Cannons debut, for instance, Windham recorded two strikeouts in the first inning and finished with six in 4 1/3. But after three clean innings, the Winchester Royals got to the Bulldog; he left with a no decision, surrendering four runs (three earned) on six hits and three walks.

Windham had similar performances in his next two starts.

“I can definitely tell my arm is getting stronger and adjusting,” he said. “Basically I want to get back into the groove of things. It’s great to get back out there and compete in a live game setting.

“My goal is to get my arm back in shape, be consistent and keep the ball low in the zone.”

Windham said during fall ball he was throwing between 87 and 90 mph, occasionally hitting 92.

Windham mixes a two-seam fastball with arm-side run and a slider in an effort to induce ground balls. He said he’s also working on developing a changeup to unleash as an out-pitch.

Happy for Crochet

Windham’s former OSHS teammate Garrett Crochet was selected in the MLB Draft last week by the Milwaukee Brewers. Windham worked out with Crochet before heading to join the Cannons and came away thoroughly impressed. The fact Crochet has garnered all sorts of attention lately from pro teams and four-year schools wasn’t a surprise.

“We were throwing a bullpen, and he was really popping the mitt,” Windham said, wowed by Crochet’s velocity. “I was so proud of him (getting drafted). It’s always great to see someone from your hometown go out and do great things.”

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs