It’s a homecoming for former Troup star
LAGRANGE – It was good to be home.
Since graduating from Troup High, Jackson Oliver hadn’t played a baseball game in his home county, but that changed on Sunday.
Oliver and his teammates on the Columbus State baseball team were at LaGrange College on Sunday for a doubleheader as part of the fall schedule for both teams.
Oliver, the starting right fielder, helped the Cougars sweep the doubleheader 6-2 and 7-0.
Sunday was also a homecoming for Cody Mimbs, who was pitching for the Callaway Cavaliers less than six months ago.
Mimbs, a freshman pitcher for Columbus State, tossed a scoreless inning in the second game after the Panthers loaded the bases.
There are two other players with local ties on the Columbus State roster.
Parker Pearson, a freshman pitcher from Troup High, and Jacob Boccucci, a junior pitcher from LaGrange High, didn’t play on Sunday.
“It was fun getting my family out here to watch me,” Oliver said. “It was fun to come back to LaGrange to play baseball. It’s always nice to come back home and play.”
Oliver has had a phenomenal career for Columbus State.
He has been one of the team’s top offensive producers since his freshman season, and he has been a defensive fixture in the outfield.
After hitting .312 as a freshman, Oliver had a breakthrough season as a sophomore when he hit .386 with 56 RBIs, and he also stole 23 bases in 26 attempts.
Oliver had another big year as a junior when he hit .358 with 36 RBIs, and he was third on the team with seven home runs.
There has been plenty of team success as well, and Oliver said the ultimate goal coming into every season is the same.
“Our goal is to win a national championship every year,” Oliver said.
While Oliver is putting the wraps on his collegiate career, it’s just getting started for Mimbs, who had a terrific senior season in helping Callaway win a region title and reach the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
Mimbs was a standout on the mound and at the plate, but he’ll focus solely on pitching at Columbus State.
On Sunday, he got into a bit of trouble when he walked two batters and gave up a single to load the bases, but he got a groundout to end that threat.
Pearson was a pitcher for the Troup team that went 25-6 and reached the second round of the state playoffs.
Boccucci, who has been used sparingly over the years, is heading into his fourth season at Columbus State, but he has two years of eligibility remaining since he was red-shirted in 2013.
Oliver said the fall is a good time for the team to figure some things out before the season gets started in a few months.
“It’s important for us,” Oliver said. “We’re trying to see what everybody’s made of right now. We’re trying to figure out the new lineup. We’ve got some new guys this year.”
For LaGrange College, it was an opportunity to go up against a big-time program that plays at a higher level.
LaGrange College is an NCAA Division III program that doesn’t offer athletic scholarships, which Columbus State is one of the elite programs in Division II.
“That’s one of the things we wanted to expose our guy to,” LaGrange College head coach David Kelton said. “It’s good competition. We want to push them, just see where we’re at in the fall.”
Kelton was hoping for a better outcome, but he said it was still a very productive day for his team.
“All in all, yes the scoreboard didn’t indicate what you wanted, but we were able to get some stuff out of it,” Kelton said. “Obviously we’d love to clean up those mistakes in the field. We’ve got time. That’s the good thing about it.”
In past years, LaGrange College wrapped up its fall schedule with an intra-squad game, but Kelton wanted to do something different this year, so he was able to get Columbus State to come to town for the doubleheader.
“We haven’t played fall games in the past,” Kelton said. “It’s interesting to see how the guys compete, how they go about it. You really want to get out of this and see the guys on the mound, see how the guys compete at the plate.”
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports