E.A. Sports Today

Jackets on the move

Oxford baseball pitcher Hammond, softball infielder Ellison make college choices

Oxford's Taylor Ellison is going to West Alabama after the JUCO coach she signed with got the softball job there.

Oxford’s Taylor Ellison is going to West Alabama after the JUCO coach she signed with got the softball job there.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Andy Hammond and Taylor Ellison, two of Oxford’s MVP spring players, have made college decisions.

Hammond, the MVP of the Calhoun County Baseball Tournament, has committed to sign with Birmingham Southern. Taylor Ellison, the MVP of Oxford’s softball team, is moving to West Alabama after signing with Northwest Mississippi CC earlier this school year.

Hammond had numerous options, but chose the Division III Panthers over Division I, II and JUCO schools for several reasons. He believes he has a better opportunity to play right away there and there’s a familiar face in the program in former Oxford teammate Jake Cook.

“I wanted to go throw at Chipola (JC), but once I went to Birmingham Southern and met the coach and knew I was playing with a teammate … it was a school, no matter what, I was going to choose because I liked it so much,” Hammond said.

Hammond, the son of former major-league pitcher Chris Hammond, was 8-1 with a 1.59 ERA for the Yellow Jackets this season despite playing the second half of the year with a torn knee ligament that is being allowed to heal on its own. He threw two one-hitters and had 64 strikeouts in 61 innings; one of one-hitters was against Alexandria in the County Tournament title game. He was 13-1 over the past two seasons.

The Panthers are signing him as a pitcher, but he believed he’d have a chance to play in the field as well.

“A lot of people say you’re good enough to play Division I; I didn’t want to,” he said. “I just don’t want to go there for a year or two and sit the bench. I want to go as far as I can … (The Panthers) say I don’t care if you’re a freshman or not, if you can throw strikes and get people out, you’re playing. We’ll see how four years go and see where it takes me.”

Ellison is following her JUCO coach. Carie Dever Boaz recently was hired as West Alabama’s coach and Ellison, as well as Pell City shortstop Abby McKee, were close behind.

“The main reason I was going to go to any college was if Carie was coaching there,” Ellison said. “I know Carie, my dad knows Carie; of course, it’s more comfortable to me. She’s a fantastic coach and I always wanted to be a part of a team she was coaching. When she moved I was excited because it was a four-year school, it was closer to home and she seemed super excited about it.”
Ellison led Oxford’s 6A state runner-up team in batting with a .406 average. She had 76 hits, a team-leading 28 doubles, 36 RBIs and 53 runs scored. She had a 1.049 OPS.

There are two bonuses with following Boaz to West Alabama. Now she doesn’t have to fret over another college decision after her second year is over and she gets two more weeks of summer since the players don’t have to report until the third week in August.

“It’s getting a great coach for four years,” she said. “It’s a win-win for me.”

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