Brent Towne WC’s Silent Assassin’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 27, 2001

Brent Towne’s quiet leadership and big bat at the cleanup spot have earned him the nickname “Silent Assassin.” (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[03/27/01] Two plays this season put Brent Towne’s high school baseball career in perspective.

The first was against Brookhaven on opening weekend. The game was tied with the winning run on third in the ninth inning. Towne took a rocket off his chest, then calmly gathered up the loose ball and fired it to first to nail the baserunner and force another inning.

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The Vikings won in the 10th.

One week later against Tupelo a team Towne’s Vikings had come close to, but had yet to beat he again threw his body in front of a sharp one-hopper.

This time, the scalding line drive left an imprint on his chest. No problem. He just picked it up and beat the runner by a few steps to again quash an opponent’s rally and help WC win.

“I didn’t want them to beat us,” the soft-spoken Towne said with a chuckle. “It hurt for a couple days, but it was all worth it.”

Hinds Community College coach Rick Clarke has noticed his ability. On Thursday, the Eagles made a scholarship offer to Towne, who will meet archrival Vicksburg High for the last time tonight at Bazinsky Field.

The senior has yet to decide where he will play ball next year. Delta State, Meridian and Belhaven have also showed interest.

Talk to WC coach Sam Temple and the reason college coaches are jumping on the Towne bandwagon is apparent.

Scouts look at batting, throwing and catching, Temple said, but as a high school coach, heart and character supersede physical attributes. Being respected in the community and keeping your nose clean is what Temple admires most about his players especially No. 23.

“I’ve been fortunate in the past five years to have coached a lot of good baseball players,” Temple said. “But Brent encompasses all of those. I’m not trying to take anything away from any of our players. I love everything about them, but Brent may very well be the best I’ve ever coached when it comes to all of it.

“The best way to say it is, Brent is blue collar and that is what Coach (Randy) Broome and I admire about him. This man is everything you’d want to coach in a ballplayer.”

His teammates take the same view of the quiet senior leader, who showed up at Viking Field as a gangly freshman.

At the beginning of the season, Alabama signee Taylor Tankersley brought tears to Towne’s eyes.

The team had a 45-minute “clear the air” session where they discussed everything from the first game to expectations of the season. Tankersley said, in no uncertain terms, that if any player wanted someone to model themselves after, it should be Brent Towne.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” Towne said. “It was unexpected.”

When the question was posed to the coach if his third baseman reminded him of when he was a player, Temple shakes his head.

“I wish I could have been like that when I was in high school,” Temple said.

Through about half the season, Towne has shrugged off some early season struggles at the plate. He is sixth on the team in hitting at .310 with two homers and 18 RBIs.

Where he hits, though, is as impressive as how he hits.

Called the “Silent Assassin” by some, Towne lurks in the No. 4 spot behind one of the most dangerous hitters in the state, Brian Pettway. Pitchers beware, though, if they want to pitch around the junior Pettway to get to Towne, Temple said.

“If you are going to pitch around Brian, you’ll have to deal with Brent’s character,” Temple said. “I didn’t say his physical ability, I said his heart and his character, and that’s a tough matchup … That’s what you have to beat.”

His biggest hit came in the woods as a 13-year-old when he bagged a seven-point buck. The nine-pointer he bagged this year was not as big, he said.

“Hunting’s a challenge,” Towne said. “It’s not as much work as baseball, but it does take some work.”

He should know.

At a program where four-, five-, and even six-hour practices are expected, Towne credits every bit of his improvement on the field to hard work and practice.

“Come baseball season, it’s practice, go home and do homework then it’s the next day and it’s baseball again,” he said with a smile. “But that’s how you get better, by hard work.”

That’s what’s going to carry the Vikings past last year’s playoff disappointment.

The first-round loss to eventual state champion Southaven still eats at him, but he knows the team’s potential. As evidence, consider WC’s three-game dismantling of the Louisiana Class 5A runners-up in 2000. WC battered Airline of Bossier City 37-4 in the three games.

“If we come out and play like we can, I don’t think anybody can stop us,” Towne said.

For that to happen, though, the coach surely knows the Silent Assassin has to be in the lineup. Others can hit and field the part, but there is only one Brent Towne.

“He has his coach’s admiration and he’s had it for a long time,” Temple said. “He plays the game like I expect it to be played. … When it comes down to everything he possesses, he’s the best I’ve ever coached.”