E.A. Sports Today

A ball for mom

Higgins’ breakthrough night, which included another home run ball to add to his mother’s collection, propels Choccolocco Monsters to sixth consecutive victory.

Cover photo: Monsters’ Trey Higgins awaits his turn at bat in the first inning against the Cartersville Cannons on Saturday at Choccolocco Park.

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Jennifer Rooks’ has every home run ball her son has hit since he was 4 years old, and Trey Higgins added to her collection Saturday.

The Samford-bound Oxford High grad homered as part of a three-RBI night, and the Choccolocco Monsters scored their sixth consecutive victory over the visiting Cartersville Cannons at Choccolocco Park.

The Monsters (14-6) moved atop the Sunbelt League standings, with a half-game lead over the Gainesville Goldiggers. Rain postponed Gainesville’s Saturday game with Brookhaven.

Higgins’ two-run home run to center field in the fourth inning put the Monsters up 3-0. He also started them off with an RBI single in the first inning.

“We really needed that home run at that point,” Monsters coach Ricky Ray Clayton said. “That was huge, and he barreled it up.”

A friend brought Rooks the ball in the stands. It was Higgins’ third addition to his mom’s collection during the Monsters season.

Higgins said he doesn’t know how many home run balls his mother has collected over the years.

“She keeps them all,” Higgins said. “She has every last one of them. She keeps them all, because one day she plans to give them all back to me, and I thought that was pretty cool.

“Right now, I’m not worried about that. I just want to give my home run ball to my momma.”

Higgins’ big night was the stuff the Monsters needed to keep their surge going, and it marked a breakthrough for him. While he’s made spectacular catches in right field and flashed his former quarterback’s arm, he’s batted .173 for the Monsters.

That’s not to say he’s gone unheard from, offensively, before Saturday. He had a solo homer and an extra-inning RBI single in the Monsters’ 8-7 victory over the Atlanta Crackers in the first game of a June 30 doubleheader.

“Trey had his struggles early, but he don’t stop,” Clayton said. “He just keeps working, keeps trying to fi things and make it better.

“He just comes through in some big situations. He’s that guy whose just always playing the game hard. Just when you think, like, ‘Oh, here we go,’ he just comes through for you. That home run tonight was really the difference in the game.”

The Sunbelt League is a summer wood-bat league for college players hoping to be scouted while wielding professional baseball’s weapon of choice. Higgins is set for his third college transition. He’s gone from Mississippi State to Snead State Community College, and Samford will be his next stop.

“I left Mississippi State and chose Snead because, the way everything played out, I wasn’t ready to make a four-year commitment yet,” Higgins said. “I wanted to go Snead and kind of reset, and Snead turned out to be the best decision that ever happened to me.

“I learned a lot there. I learned it’s more than baseball. Baseball doesn’t define who you are as a person. It’s just a game, just a kid’s game on top of that, that we all love, and you’ve got to keep it at that.”

He said Samford “checked all of the boxes” for the place to finish his college career and, he hopes, find his way into professional baseball.

As for his latest gift to his mom, it came after a little pain.

“I took a slider off my shin the pitch before that, so I felt confident because I had seen his offspeed,” Higgins said. “I knew that I was on that.

“So, I was sitting heater, and I didn’t miss that one.”

Rooks has a new ball to turn into a keepsake, with all relevant information written on it. Higgins said he doesn’t have a favorite home run.

“Any homer is a sweet homer to me,” he said. “I love them all.”

Game updates

–Field prep underway after rain delay. First pitch ASAP.
–T1: Cannons get one hit, no runs.
–B1: Monsters load the bases, get Trey Higgins’ RBI single to lead 1-0.
–T2: Nothing for the Cannons.
–B2: Nothing for the Monsters.
–T3: Cannons go down in order.
–B3: Robinson singles, steals and takes third base on a sac fly, but Monsters can’t get him home. Still 1-0, Monsters.
–T4: Harrison hangs another zero on the board.
–B4: Higgins’ two-run home run to CF makes it 3-0.
–T5: Monsters make a pitching change, Thomas Ballard for Harrison. … Cannons get two hits, load the bases but no runs.
–B5: Nothing for the Monsters, still lead 3-0.
–T6: Cannons push two runs across. Monsters lead, 3-2.
–B6: Nothing for the Monsters.
–T7: Ballard gets two Ks, hangs another zero on the board.
–B7: The Monsters load the bases with one out, and Wells scores on a wild pitch to make it 4-2. … Add Robinson’s RBI single to make it 5-2. … Pitching change for Cartersville, Earwood for Eckard.
–T8: Closer Avery Brown in to pitch for the Monsters … Cannons get no runs on one hit.
–B8: Monsters go down in order, still lead 5-2.
–T9: Larkin’s two-run single brings the Cannons within 5-4. … Brown gets the K to end it.
FINAL: Monsters win 5-4, stretch winning streak to six games and take a half-game lead in the Sunbelt League.

Photo gallery by Joe Medley

Melanie Brooks, wife of Choccolocco Monsters general manager Roby Brooks, takes on the role of BOOM! for Saturday night’s home game against the Cartersville Cannons. (Photo by Joe Medley)
With Monsters pitcher Andrew Allen looking on, and catcher Tate Morris on the receiving end, mascot BOOM! throws out the first pitch before Saturday’s game against the Cartersville Cannons at Choccolocco Park.
Monsters pitcher Hayes Harrison comes out of his windup against the Cartersville Cannons on Saturday at Choccolocco Park.
Catcher Tate Morris (left) and infieder Weston Kirk congratulate pitcher Hayes Harrison after a scoreless first inning against the Cartersville Cannons on Saturday at Choccolocco Park.
Monsters hitters Rashad Robinson (left) and Cole Tremain size up the opposing pitcher while awaiting their at bats against the Cartersville Cannons on Saturday at Choccolocco Park.
Monsters’ Rashad Robinson tries to score from third base after a rundown starts between first and second in the first inning against the Cartersville Cannons on Saturday at Choccolocco Park.

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